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Better stress management
Critical (traumatic) incidents are a key source of stress for emergency services (EMS) personnel. This qualitative study, one of the few in the EMS literature, explored the “need for critical incident stress interventions”, “types of interventions” and “barriers to interventions” perceived by 60 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and their supervisors from a Canadian service. Interview and focus group data revealed the EMT participants “want emotional support from their organization immediately after critical incidents”, and that the best support includes “supervisor support” (previously cited in the EMS literature) and a “timeout period”. The latter has not previously been cited in the EMS literature, but has been proposed as beneficial to police, physicians and surgeons. Beneficial “supervisor support” involved acknowledgement of the incident as critical, valuing the work of the EMT, concern for the well-being of the EMT and willingness to listen and offer material help. “Timeouts” facilitated an early reduction in emotional arousal and included a time to relax, decompress and discuss the incident with peers. “Barriers” included unsupportive supervisors, operational pressures preventing timeout and an organisational culture stigmatising vulnerability. The authors suggest that education on stigmatisation and …
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