In the wake of last year’s Bronx commuter train derailment that killed four passengers, Metro-North officials have issued a directive that would require the 350 engineers who work for the railway to be evaluated in the coming months for sleep apnea.
The report from ABC News reiterates that the engineer on the ill-fated train suffered from “severe” sleep apnea. According to reporter N.J. Burkett, the rail union has no objections. Mike Doyle, general chairman of the Officials with the Association of Commuter Rail Employees union, told ABC Eyewitness News in a statement that, “recognizing that an undiagnosed sleep disorder likely was a major contributing factor to the tragic accident…our organization is working with Metro-North to establish a program to help identify engineers who may suffer from the same medical condition.”
MTA chief spokesman Adam Lisberg said there are still a lot of questions about the screening and that it will be extended to all safety-sensitive personnel. “We haven’t agreed on what to do in the program,” he told Burkett. “We’re working on plans for addressing sleep apnea for critical safety personnel, but have no final plans yet for what we’ll do.”
Dr. Steven Feinsilver, of Mount Sinai, applauded the move, but warned that screening for sleep apnea is easier said than done. “Feinsilver said the best testing is an overnight sleep study which can be a ‘relatively complicated thing to do,’” wrote Burkett.