Strategies to improve sleep during extended search and rescue operations

Jennifer Lee Jenkins, Kim Fredericksen, Roger Stone, Nelson Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective. This study investigated strategies to improve sleeping conditions during search and rescue operations during disaster response. Methods. Forty members of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Urban Search and Rescue Team were surveyed for individual sleep habits and sleeping aids used during extended deployments. Team members were also asked to suggest methods to improve sleep on future deployments. Results. The average amount of sleep during field operations was 5.4 hours with a range of 4-8 hours. Eight percent surveyed would prefer another schedule besides the 12-hour work day, all of whom proposed three 8-hour shifts. Fifteen percent of participants were interested in a pharmacological sleeping aid. Fifty percent of search and rescue members interviewed would consider using nonpharmacological sleeping aids. Furthermore, 40% of participants stated they had successfully devised self-employed methods of sleep aids for previous deployments, such as ear plugs, massage, mental imagery, personal routines, music and headphones, reading, and blindfolds. Conclusions. This study suggests that availability of both pharmacological and nonpharmacological sleeping aids to search and rescue workers via the team cache could impact the quantity of sleep. Further investigation into methods of optimizing sleep during field missions could theoretically show enhanced performance through various aspects of missions including mitigation of errors, improved productivity, and improved overall physiological and emotional well-being of search and rescue personnel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-233
Number of pages4
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Disaster
  • Field work
  • Pharmacological
  • Search and rescue
  • Sleep
  • Special operations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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