Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and NAMESO published a seminal EMS fatigue management paper earlier this month. The study involved a team of more than two dozen researchers tasked with creating EMS fatigue management guidelines. After pouring through thousands of pieces of literature, the team came together and constructed five guidelines.

The following is a summary of these guidelines:

1. Use a fatigue survey to monitor EMS employee fatigue.

Conduct a quarterly fatigue survey to have EMS personnel self-assess their level of fatigue. Use this information to assess current standings and adjust accordingly.

2. Limit shift duration to less than 24 hours.

Studies show that shifts more than 24 hours in length produce more negative fatigue-related outcomes. Additional studies suggest that shifts 8 to 12 hours in duration are ideal.

3. Provide EMS personnel access to caffeine.

Studies have shown that low doses of caffeine produce favorable performance outcomes. Your agency should provide free coffee or some other access to caffeine during shifts.

4. Allow employees opportunities to nap on duty.

Multiple studies showed that napping during shifts results in better outcomes. EMS should have the opportunity to nap during shifts, though this may be an easier policy for some agencies to implement than others.

5. Provide EMS employees with ongoing fatigue education and training.

Sleep education yields positive changes in employee sleep and fatigue within weeks. Provide new employees with sleep health and fatigue management education during orientation. Provide this education every two years.

Believe it or not, Crew Metrics was conceived only two short months before this publication. By some fortunate chance, this publication seems to highlight the scope of the problem in ways we ourselves were only beginning to articulate.

A better solution…

The Crew Metrics team is particularly interested in providing an alternative solution to the first guideline on this list. Using surveys to assess EMS employee fatigue is a great start. However, we believe the limitations of EMS fatigue management surveys are too great to reliably inform management decisions. Instead, our system uses wearable-sourced biometric data to produce proven, reliable sleep and exercise reports. FitBit’s powerful and increasingly accurate platform, in combination with Crew Metric’s smart predictive risk framework, will allow for unparalleled risk management capabilities.

EMS Fatigue Management Survey

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