She is a newly trained Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operator, with just 60 days under her belt when she was at the helm of the Blue Line train that jumped the tracks, crashed through an end barrier, climbed stairs, and finally came to rest at the top of an escalator at O’Hare Airport earlier this week. Yet, being newly trained and inexperienced is not the reason she crashed.
According to a story posted by The Chicago Tribune, “the operator has openly told investigators of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that she was asleep at the wheel.”
But, wait there is more…
In addition, the operator has reported to the authorities that this is not the first time she fell asleep on the job. She cited an earlier incident where she was “asleep at the wheel” as she headed toward the Belmont Station on February 1, and overshot the station at that time.
Now, granted it was 0242 in the morning at the time of the O’Hare crash, and at this time of night many people are snuggled warmly in their beds, sound asleep. Moreover, it is the very time of the crash occurring which may have what prevented serious or fatal injuries at the station.
The NTSB is saying that the train’s emergency brakes should have stopped the train before it jumped the tracks, climbed stairs, and landed at the top of an escalator “if the operator’s hand leaves the switch” but if the operator’s hand is still touching the switch…
I understand how hard night shifts are as I have been a Psychiatric RN working in a hospital based crisis stabilization program for years. There is no way I would sleep at the nurse’s station. First, it would endanger my life. Second, it would endanger my peers and patients.
Falling asleep on the job happens everywhere and I get that.
However, if you fall asleep on the job more than once, seriously, you need to reconsider what your job is and consider a different job on a different shift. No job is worth your life or the life of others. Additionally, I can say if I was responsible for hurting or killing people on the job I doubt I would ever sleep soundly again.