Title

Lessons in post-disaster self-care from 9/11 paramedics and emergency medical technicians

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Prehospital and Disaster Medicine

ISSN

1945-1938

Volume

34

Issue

3

First Page

335

Last Page

339

PubMed ID

31204643

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

School

School of Medical and Health Sciences

RAS ID

28850

Comments

Originally published as: Smith, E., Walker, T., & Burkle Jr, F. M. (2019). Lessons in post-disaster self-care from 9/11 paramedics and emergency medical technicians. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 34(3), 335-339. Original publication available here

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to explore preferred self-care practices among paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who responded to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack (9/11) in New York City (New York USA).

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Qualitative research methodology with convenience and subsequent snowball sampling was utilized. Participants were adult (at least 18 years of age) paramedics or EMTs who self-reported as responding to the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Preferred self-care practices; participant characteristics; indications and patterns of self-care use; perceived benefits and harms; and views on appropriate availability of support and self-care services were the main outcome measures.

RESULTS: The 9/11 paramedic and EMT participants reported a delay in recognizing the need for self-care. Preferred physical self-care practices included exercise, good nutrition, getting enough sleep, and sticking to routine. Preferred psychosocial self-care practices included spending time with family and friends, participating in peer-support programs and online support forums, and routinely seeing a mental health professional. Self-care was important for younger paramedics and EMTs who reported having less-developed supportive infrastructure around them, as well as for retiring paramedics and EMTs who often felt left behind by a system they had dedicated their lives to. Access to cooking classes and subsidized gym memberships were viewed as favorable, as was the ability to include family members in self-care practices.

CONCLUSION(S): A range of physical and psychosocial self-care practices should be encouraged among paramedic students and implemented by Australian ambulance services to ensure the health and well-being of paramedics throughout their career and into retirement.

DOI

10.1017/S1049023X19004382

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