Uneasy dance partners

Supervisor support helps paramedics cope with stress: Study
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/19/2010

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) frequently encounter traumatic or critical incidents that can result in emotional pain and suffering. Various techniques — such as critical incident stress debriefing or “screen and treat” from external helpers — have been used through the years, but there can be drawbacks.

“When you bring in new people, you’re pathologizing it, you’re saying, ‘This is the problem, you’re sick,’” says Janice Halpern, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

As an alternative, supervisor support can be one of the most welcome interventions or resources to prevent or mitigate emotional suffering, according to Halpern, co-author of the study Interventions for Critical Incident Stress in Emergency Medical Services.