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Peer support for EMS provider mental health

The EMS work environment affects a provider's mental health, placing a new focus on peer support in EMS


This is the eighth of 10 articles in the 2017 EMSFORWARD campaign. Read the article announcing the series or visit EMSFORWARD.org to access the full report and additional patient safety resources.

"EMS practitioners face challenging and traumatic events that can impact their mental well-being each and every day. The mounting effect of patient needs, family, long workdays, nutrition, physical health, and sleep deprivation all contribute to an individual’s sense of wellness."

— National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians

Scenario: An EMS crew is called to an infant not breathing. The crew arrives on scene and starts resuscitation of a 3-month old male who didn’t wake up from a nap. The crew follows a system based approach in the resuscitation without success.

Discouraged, the crew walks outside to take a break and talk about the call. (Courtesy photo)
Discouraged, the crew walks outside to take a break and talk about the call. (Courtesy photo)

They contact medical control, package the patient and continue care as they transport the infant to the hospital. Upon arrival to the emergency department, the crew gives report and transfers care of the still non-responsive infant to the staff that is waiting for them. 

Discouraged, the crew walks outside to take a break and talk about the call. Both paramedics are parents and one of them has a young infant about the same age as their patient. Heading home from work, the call circles around in their minds. They wonder if they could have done something different, or better. In their minds, they can still hear and see the parents grieving the loss of their child.  

Ask yourself: Has your organization implemented a peer support program?

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