Can a diabetic drive an ambulance?

Discussion in 'Pre-Hospital [ EMS ]' started by thirdunity, Nov 21, 2005.

  1. thirdunity

    thirdunity Senior Member
    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    2
    Here's the deal... I am *possibly* either type 2 diabetic, or pre-diabetic. I wasn't told there was potentially an employment issue with this, before I started my EMS training. I'm now almost through with the training.

    Today I just got told by my EMT teacher that with some transport companies, people diagnosed with diabetes can't be employed as EMTs because the diabetes is seen as something that could potentially make someone an unsafe driver. I am not sure I understood her correctly.

    Is this true?

    Do they distinguish between well controlled type 2, poorly controlled type 2, type 1, etc?

    I haven't been officially dxed yet, actually I don't want that until I am already firmly insured.

    I am from a family with a nearly 100% legacy of type 2 diabetes and have had a lot of the symptoms they have had in immediate years before diagnosis. I've been concerned in the past year and a half or so that I might be diabetic.

    Since seeing yet another relative go on dialysis and having my father now dxed diabetic, I started eating a very careful diet which didn't seem like it would hurt regardless of whether or not I were diabetic. [Side benefit of that is that I was almost 40 lbs overweight for years, and the change in diet brought me back to my "right" weight.]

    I've been avoiding formal diagnosis until I have health insurance again.

    The point of all of this is, if I am diabetic or pre-diabetic, then I am one of those people who controls it through diet. Am I still going to be unemployable even if I'm not insulin dependent?

    As long as I'm careful, I am just as healthy as anyone else, plus I always keep glucose and protein snacks (beef jerky, etc) on me at all times in the rare instance that my blood sugar drops. I know my own body enough to know when I'm a safe driver, and when I'm not.

    I'm just concerned that if I do at some point end up dxed with diabetes, I could end up being unable to find a job regardless of how well it's controlled... I'm being told that many places (various employers, not just EMT) in the past haven't distinguished between well-controlled type 2 diabetes vs insulin-dependent diabetes. A friend of mine knows someone who was unable to get hired as a security guard at a particular place because she had type 2 diabetes, even though she was stable and on oral meds, not insulin-dependent.

    Anyway... have I just wasted my time?
     
  2. Note: SDN Members do not see this ad.

  3. a_ditchdoc

    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2005
    Messages:
    385
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    You haven't wasted your time. I know several diabetics that worked for my EMS service. Having diabetes should not prevent you from doing your job as well as everyone else. Unless of course, your blood glucose keeps dropping on the job, then it could become an issue of safety...
     
  4. 12R34Y

    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2000
    Messages:
    1,678
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I have personally worked with about 6 diabetics that I know of. Half of them worked on the ambulance with me at different times and a few of them were firefighters (drivers). Shouldn't be a problem. Two of the firefighters had insulin pumps going. no biggie.

    later
     
  5. Jambi

    Jambi Caldari
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Messages:
    331
    Likes Received:
    2
    As far as I know It's not usually an Employer issue, it's usually a DMV issue as you need a DMV physical to drive the "commercial" vehicle. With that said, I've worked with many diabetics and it has never been a problem.
     
  6. Paramedic2617

    Paramedic2617 Junior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    I agree with the other posts. From what I've seen, its not an employment issue (that would be discrimination), its a driving issue. So if you have your license and your fully capable then it shouldn't be a problem.
     
  7. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Messages:
    2,296
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    I'm going to presume that you need a commercial driver's license to drive an ambulance. That said, a diabetic who requires insulin is specifically disqualified from CDL certification due to the risk of hypoglycemia. Now, there are ways around this, but it requires a specific exemption from a diabetologist. It's also not a great idea for a non-insulin-dependent diabetic to be on sulfonylureas and other oral agents notorious for causing hypoglycemia (beta blockers, etc.) because a hypoglycemic driver is a dangerous driver.
    If you are NOT medicated e.g. diet-controlled and you're essentially normoglycemic (read <120 mg/dL, <110 even better) most of the time, you're not a risk to yourself or others.
    The Dept. of Transportation has specific language on-line for commercial drivers. Read it and you'll understand what you can and can't do. And GOOD FOR YOU for losing that 40#...it may just prolong your life and will certainly stave off the unfortunately inevitable diagnosis of diabetes for some time.
    Lisa PA-C
    Family Medicine & Urgent Care
     
  8. OSUdoc08

    OSUdoc08 Membership Revoked
    Removed

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2003
    Messages:
    7,698
    Likes Received:
    6
    Status:
    Medical Student
    The ambulance service I worked for did not require a commercial driver's license. I have worked with a diabetic partner before, and it was never a problem.
     
  9. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
    Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2002
    Messages:
    11,645
    Likes Received:
    557
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Notorious is a bad term to use to describe hypoglycemia induced by sulfonylureas. Sulfonylureas can and do induce hypoglycemia, but they aren't notorious for it. Only a small percentage of people have significant hypoglycemia from sulfonylureas. (The majority of people do what they're supposed to -- eat.)

    There was a type I diabetic who worked with me when I was a paramedic.

    As a type II diabetic, you should find it much easier to secure a job. You won't have to go through hoops with the DMV for your CDL.

    No matter what type of diabetic you are, the ADA cannot allow a company to disqualify you because you are a diabetic.
     
  10. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
    Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2003
    Messages:
    2,418
    Likes Received:
    48
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field]
    Diabetologist? Did you mean endocrinologist?
     
  11. FoughtFyr

    FoughtFyr SDN Lifetime Donor
    Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2003
    Messages:
    2,216
    Likes Received:
    26
    Status:
    Post Doc
    Lisa,

    First off (just for your mental info) one does NOT need a CDL to drive an ambulance. The weight simply isn't there. One does need a higher weight designation to drive a fire appartus generally, but most states issue "non-CDL class B" licenses or some similar individual state designated license. This is to reduce the costs associated with obtaining and maintaining CDLs for firefighters (annual physicals, etc.). So, a diabetic who can drive a car can drive an ambulance.

    That said, some smaller companies will exclude diabetics, obstensively for "driving problems" but really are looking to keep healthcare costs contained (diabetics are expensive to insure and treat).

    - H
     
  12. niko327

    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    290
    Likes Received:
    77
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I knew we were in trouble when I looked over to my left and saw "Carl" jab the needle into his belly, "Carl maybe you better slow down and turn the lights off". "Naaaah, just a little tune-up Niko, am I bleeding?" I think Carl enjoyed making me nervous.
     

Share This Page