Background Paramedics are experiencing numerous policy and protocol 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, protocols, and professional roles in the healthcare system. To date, this ongoing multi-jurisdictional study has captured a better understanding of the lived experiences of Canadian paramedics throughout the COVID-19 outbreak and provided insight to which leadership approaches have been most impactful throughout such unprecedented circumstances.
Method Data was collected through an online survey, consisting of quantitative and qualitative questions. Survey responses (n=428) were received between April 2, 2020 and August 1, 2020. The study, theoretically grounded in a phenomenological approach, employed inductive thematic analysis to code the data. The survey remains open and has expanded to include England for further data collection as the pandemic continues to evolve.
Results Major themes identified encompassed both professional and personal elements. Although some participants praised organizational leadership and how professional needs had been met throughout the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, other respondents expressed weariness to change management approaches and further need for clear communication strategies. Many participants also expressed increased stress, exhaustion and anxiety negatively impacting their mental health.
Conclusions Early results confirmed a need for paramedics to adapt professional approaches to overcome barriers presented by COVID-19. Although most respondents noted confidence in their ability to provide patient care to those exhibiting symptoms, many noted concern regarding changes to standard of care for patients. In this presentation, we will discuss preliminary results from our study, and share recommendations pertaining to leadership and change management impacting paramedic practice.
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