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lored to the needs and requirements of the indi- vidual. This comprehensive AMP, called Z- Coach, was developed by Alertness Solutions, of Cupertino, California, as an excellent method for providing awareness and understanding of various aspects of fatigue along with alertness manage- ment techniques to help each individual determine his or her own particular sleep and fatigue-relat- ed needs and requirements. The instruction takes each participant

through successive stages of education, training and understanding, using an Olympic model of bronze, silver and gold levels.

In fact, one of the

first groups to use Z-Coach was the U.S. Olympic Team bound for Beijing in 2008 (Z- Coach is the “official sleep program of the U.S. Olympic Team for 2008/2010/2012”).

The pro-

gram provides greater insight of the circadian clock and how it affects your ability to sleep during the day, as well as how it can make it very difficult to remain alert during certain parts of the night.


provides an understanding of accumulated sleep debt, not only in general terms, but in specific terms of how much sleep debt you personally build up during successive nights of shift work. A caffeine calculator will tell you how much caffeine you personally need to stay awake, and will pro- vide guidance on when you should, and should not, take that caffeine.

The importance of naps

and a scientifically based strategy for incorporat- ing naps into your daily routine is also part of the instruction. This is just a small sample of the infor- mation and personalized strategies and tools pro- vided by Z-Coach. The Z-Coach program is now available to

air medical team members and ambulance person- nel through NEMSPA. Qualifying individuals and programs that enroll through the NEMSPA web- site ( will receive a substantial discount over the standard pricing. The training

curriculum is modeled to meet FAA and CAMTS initial and recurrent education requirements.


initial training, individuals receive 24/7 unlimited access to Z-Coach for six months. Recurrent training provides three months access (with a fee that is a fraction of the initial training) as often as the individual or their air medical program wishes. You can expect to spend about two hours to complete the Bronze level of achievement in the Z-Coach program, with many more strategies, tools, and resources available depending upon how much additional material you wish to learn and use. Employees and employers are provided with certificates of completion to document com- pletion of the training. Z-Coach is intended for anyone who performs shift work, including nurses, paramedics, physicians, communications specialists, office staff and pilots. For those programs that pay employees to

attend classroom-based training, you will likely see significant cost savings, especially for the recurrent training, which is very reasonably priced. Is fatigue a problem in air medical opera-

tions? No question that it is. While improved schedules may eventually offer some relief, opera- tors are highly encouraged to develop and inte- grate improved fatigue and alertness education into their training programs. The use of Z-Coach to provide the tools to address the long-standing, and perhaps underestimated, influence of fatigue on air medical operations seems to be a perfect fit for air medical transport providers, as well as for any other 24/7 operation where operational safe- ty is paramount and the risks cannot be com- pletely eliminated. abcd

Details on enrolling in the program through NEMSPA can be found at

Kent Johnson, Chief Pilot for Intermountain Life Flight in Salt Lake City, is the current president of the National EMS Pilots Association (NEMSPA). A fixed wing pilot with more than 7,500 flight hours and 12 years experience in EMS operations, Kent can be reached at


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