"Nothing matters more than the diagnostic ability of a physician."
- Sandra Trop
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    Awake at the Wheel: Then and Now

    April 15th, 2013

    Awake at the Wheel, LLC traces its origins to the steel mills and foundries and trucking terminals of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1950s and 60s. It was there, as the son of a truck driver, I came to know worry and fear and dread. My father would be gone for days at a time, traveling to such exotic places as Buffalo and Rochester and Syracuse, summer and winter. I remember sleeping by the telephone when he was away, so that I would be the first in the family to get the call from either the Pennsylvania or New York State police, the call that told us his Mack truck had gone off the road, and that the worst had happened. I wanted to be the first person in the family to hear that news. And I remember the sound of his keys in the lock of our front door as he let himself into our house at 3 or 4 in the morning. I remember the pancakes he’d make for us, dinner for him and breakfast for me in the 3 or 4 hours I would have to see him before I went to school and he went into a darkened bedroom to sleep during the day, before the enforced separation of father and son would repeat itself, and he would again be gone to highway by the time I returned home from school later that day.

    It is no surprise then that I entitled my 2010 presentation to the New York State Motor Trucking Association WORRIED SICK: A TRUCKDRIVER’S SON BECOMES A DOCTOR. Since then I have been blessed to know Mike Chellis not only as a patient and officer of NYSMTSA who first invited me to present the topic of sleep medicine to his group in 2010, but also as a friend and partner in what has become our determined mission to keep the hard working women and men of the commercial motor vehicle industries safely on the job, supporting their families.
    As my father before me, I too have had to make a journey. I’ve translated beautiful and exciting medical concepts into images anybody can understand, changing the title of my presentation to SLEEP MEDICINE FOR FAMILIES. On my journey I have formulated The Syracuse Model, a socio-medical-technologic explanation of the forces these drivers must endure to support their families. The further along I got in my journey, the more apparent it became that it is eminently possible to screen, test, diagnose and treat those hard working drivers who might have sleep disordered breathing without them missing so much as an hour of service.

    It has become obvious since 2010, when I first presented “Worried Sick,” that the many caregivers and stake holders in the landscape of healthcare and healthcare financing must work in synergy if we are to protect these drivers, their families, their employers, and the public. Again, I have been blessed to have support and encouragement, from sources as seemingly diverse as Mercedes-Benz to home care companies. It is my hope and prayer that long before Commercial Medical Vehicle medical recommendations become law, those of us meeting here today in New York will summon the wherewithal to make the various diverse systems responsible for public and private health at least equal to the sum of their parts, and hopefully greater, and in so doing put at ease the hearts and minds of children who wait nervously to make sure Mom or Dad will make it home safely, as well as the hearts and minds of parents who whisper a prayer of thanks every time their child steps out of a school bus at the end of the day, knowing that they will whisper another prayer when their child steps onto the bus the following morning. This is the charge I bring to all of us today.

    David J. Davin MD, FCCP, PLLC
    President, AWAKE AT THE WHEEL, LLC.