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3 Tips to Stay Mentally Alert During Long Shifts

You work 12 hours (or even 24 hours) during a very busy ambulance shift and are ready to be home, go for a run, eat dinner and get to bed. However, on your way out the door your supervisor stops you. She tells you that someone has called in sick and wonders if you could possibly stay a few more hours or come back early the next morning. You are already exhausted. How do you stay alert and attentive during a long shift? Every Day EMS Tips contributor Martha Bonnie shares her tips for staying attentive during an extended or overnight shift.

1. Move. Walk in the ambulance bay, around your department, or in the office. Avoid sitting in front of a television or computer, while waiting for your next call.

2. Clean. Wash the inside and outside of vehicles used by your agency. Clean your locker, gear and bunkroom. Enlist the help of others to organize supplies.

3. Enjoy. Talk to your coworkers. Go for a walk, play a board game, or discuss professional topics. Be interested in their lives and spend time getting to know each other.

Sleep deprivation may be a routine part of your job. However, you can stave off that sleepy feeling by avoiding boredom. Keep moving, stay clean and enjoy your job!

Share your ideas for staying awake, alert, and enthusiastic in the comments area.

JEMS Digital Edition

By First Arriving

Dave is an EMS provider based in New York City for over 20 years and has been blogging for over 10 years. He is experienced in all facets of EMS Service Management, Emergency Management, and specializes in Event Medical Services. He maintains a blog at, is an Columnist, and will be authoring on all things social (including Social Media) here at The Social Medic.