Background Paramedics are experiencing numerous policy and guideline changes in addition to facing enhanced risk of personal exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak offers an opportunity to capture the experiences of paramedics during substantial and rapid changes to workplace policy, guidelines, and professional roles in the healthcare system. To date, this ongoing study has captured a better understanding of the lived experiences of English paramedics.
Method Data were collected through an online survey, consisting of QUAN +QUAL questions. The study, theoretically grounded in a phenomenological approach, employed inductive thematic analysis to code the data. QUAN answers were analysed using descriptive statistics and chi-square to test for association between demographic data and answers.
Results A total of 34 survey responses from September – December 2020 have been received from across England, with the survey remaining open. Major themes to date have identified both professional and personal elements. There is a feeling of increased pressure related to public expectation, with noted increases in call volumes in some areas. There has been a change to the workforce and increased levels of sickness. The type and level of PPE as well as employer communication varies depending on the area respondents work in. Many participants also expressed increased stress, exhaustion and anxiety negatively impacting their mental health.
Conclusions Early results confirm a need for paramedics to adapt professional approaches to overcome barriers presented by COVID-19. There appears to be a disparity in the amount of communication, PPE and support depending on the area worked in. Respondents are fatigued and worried about others, including families. Yet, there remains a clear professional attitude and commitment to providing care throughout the pandemic. The survey remains open with a comparison of data between Canada and England planned.
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