• Downtime after critical incidents in emergency medical technicians/paramedics

    by Alan Batt. Last modified: 08/06/14

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    Halpern J1, Maunder RG1, Schwartz B2, Gurevich M3. Downtime after critical incidents in emergency medical technicians/paramedics. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:483140. PMID: 24877101.

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    Abstract

    Effective workplace-based interventions after critical incidents (CIs) are needed for emergency medical technicians (EMT)/paramedics. The evidence for a period out of service post-CI (downtime) is sparse; however it may prevent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and burnout symptoms.

    We examined the hypothesis that downtime post-CI is associated with fewer symptoms of four long-term emotional sequelae in EMT/paramedics: depression, PTSD, burnout, and stress-related emotional symptoms (accepted cut-offs defined high scores). Two hundred and one paramedics completed questionnaires concerning an index CI including downtime experience, acute distress, and current emotional symptoms. Nearly 75% received downtime; 59% found it helpful; 84% spent it with peers.

    Downtime was associated only with lower depression symptoms, not with other outcomes. The optimal period for downtime was between 1 day being less effective. Planned testing of mediation of the association between downtime and depression by either calming acute post-CI distress or feeling helped by others was not performed because post-CI distress was not associated with downtime and perceived helpfulness was not associated with depression.

    These results suggest that outcomes of CIs follow different pathways and may require different interventions.

    A brief downtime is a relatively simple and effective strategy in preventing later depression symptoms.

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    Alan Batt

    Alan Batt

    Paramedic, educator, researcher
    Alan is a critical care paramedic, paramedic educator and prehospital researcher, currently working around the world as an educator and researcher. He has previously worked and studied across Europe, North America and the Middle East. He holds a Graduate Certificate in Intensive Care Paramedic Studies, and an MSc in Critical Care. His main interests are in care of the elderly, end-of-life care, patient safety, professionalism (including role and identity), and paramedic education.

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