EMS1: Supporting paramedics after a bad call

Openly acknowledge the bad calls, create space for people to be human and then get out of the way

Chaplain Russ Myers

It is immensely valuable to utilize the language of “ambiguous” in describing a particular call, or job. It might be good for the clinical challenge, bad for the emotional impact. In response to bad jobs, an ambulance service will do well at minimum to acknowledge the event and its potential for anguish. As Reynolds observes, the extent to which a job is considered bad depends on the individual. Two paramedics arrive at the scene together, provide care, and transport the patient. Later, one of them may comment that the incident was challenging but not personally distressing. The other may report that it was one of the worst scenes they’ve had in a long time.

Even if no other staff support interventions are provided, simple recognition by leaders and peers that they responded to a scene that may have been a bad call contributes to a culture of support and cohesiveness. Beyond the minimal expression of awareness, frontline clinicians may be offered peer support, debriefing, follow up by chaplain or other meaningful assistance.

Read the rest of “Providing relational support to paramedics after a bad call” at EMS1.

You may also be interested in our resources on municipal chaplaincy here.