With recent studies and reports talking about the dangers of sleep apnea, as well as tighter fitness requirements for truckers, many in the industry are taking a closer look at this problematic sleeping disorder. There is one company stepping up to the plate, helping drivers to catch and treat sleep apnea early on.
Prime, Inc. is actively taking measures to improve the safety and well-being of its truckers, testing and treating drivers for sleep apnea all from within its facility.
“The most important thing is to improve the quality of life for the driver. It’s something we’ve been working at pretty hard,” said Steve Field, Director of Safety with Prime, Inc.
Drivers of the company that are prone to the disorder, and those enrolled in the company’s student training program, are first tested in the training center’s sleep lab.
If it turns out a driver suffers from sleep apnea, where breathing momentarily stops during sleep, the company works with doctors to treat the condition, which most often times involves a CPAP – a mouth blower that aids breathing while asleep. Of course, there is a period of adjustment for the drivers, or anyone, to forceful wind down their throat.
“Once they get used to the equipment, they start to realize what it feels like to get a good night’s sleep,” Field said.
Benefits one can expect from treatment include more energy, less drowsiness, lower blood pressure, weight loss, and most importantly, a safer day’s work behind the wheel.
The company subsidizes the program, sharing the expenses of treatment with the driver, making sure he’s getting treatment at a low cost “usually much less than it would be through his doctor, even if he carried insurance,” Field added.
Field said they don’t see the disorder as a life-long condition. The company works with those truckers suffering from sleep apnea, setting them up with a health and wellness coach who works with them on things such as diet and exercise to improve their well-being and help them get off the CPAP machine.
Founded in 1970, Prime, Inc. is headquartered in Springfield, Mo. and is North America’s most successful refrigerated, flatbed, tanker and logistics trucking company. Their equipment and technology remains on the cutting edge of the transportation industry.