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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE PREHOSPITAL KIND
Patient satisfaction surveys are frequently used as an indicator of the performance of healthcare services. There is, however, little research providing depth of information about people’s experiences of initial encounters with prehospital emergency care. Using unstructured interviews with patients (n = 4) and individuals involved in delivering on-scene first response (3 ambulance staff, 2 fire service staff, 8 police service staff, 1 next of kin), this research explores participants’ narratives about events related to traumatic injuries in prehospital settings. Adopting a phenomenological approach, the analysis focuses on searching for the essential meaning of what happened during these encounters. A variety of different issues emerged including notions of helplessness, patients’ desire for reassurance that they were still alive, feelings of fear and hopelessness, and aspects of altered consciousness. Interestingly, patients in this study identified that having an opportunity to discuss what exactly took place during these incidents helped them to cope more effectively with their own situations. The paper emphasises that being a patient in an emergency situation can be a terrifying ordeal and, while acknowledging the complexities involved in urgent care—especially in life-threatening events—the authors …