An investigation of the lived experiences of Intensive Care Paramedics

Shakespeare-Finch, Jane E. & Savill, Susan (2013) An investigation of the lived experiences of Intensive Care Paramedics. In Australia & New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Conference, AST Management Pty Ltd, Mercure Hotel, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 230-246.


Intensive Care Paramedics (ICPs) attend to only the most clinically challenging of emergency medical cases, often working in a chaotic and frenetic atmosphere. They are regularly exposed to human tragedy and with that, the potential to experience traumatic events is not uncommon. There is very little known about the well-being of ICPs; how they cope with the demands of their role, or about their mental health in general. Nineteen experienced ICPs (4 female, 15 male) participated in a semi-structured interview. Themes were extracted from the data using an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis approach. All participants discussed a work-related event they attended that traumatized them, usually experienced in the earlier parts of their career. Some spoke of an immediate overwhelming of their capacity to cope and others of a gradual onset of traumatic stress when reflecting on the event at a later time. More than half of the participants described events that involved children as the most difficult. Data revealed four superordinate themes: Social Support, Cognitive Coping, Proactive Coping, and Long Term Effects. Each superordinate theme comprised a number of constituent themes which are presented in this paper and exemplified with participant quotes. Although ongoing distress was described by some participants, all of the ICPs interviewed discussed positive aspects of their job; things that made the role worthwhile and fulfilling. This research highlights the important factors involved in coping with, and growing from, the extraordinary events that ICPs face. Results have implications for employing organizations and staff support services as well as for paramedics more broadly as they learn to cope with events inherent in their career. Findings indicate that positive adaptation and personal growth as a result of exposure to extremely high levels of potentially traumatic experiences is not only possible, but highly probable.

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ID Code: 62197
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: paramedic, well-being, trauma, coping, social support
ISBN: 9781922232045
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Health Clinical and Counselling Psychology (170106)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Please consult the authors
Deposited On: 30 Aug 2013 00:59
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2013 23:58

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