Date of Paper

5-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

David J. Roseborough

Abstract

Intense, gruesome and dangerous work situations are frequent for the emergency response worker (ERW’s). Emergency response workers, including ambulance workers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMT) and firefighters are regularly exposed to stressful situations. This exploratory and qualitative research offered an in-depth look, through the eyes of ERW’s, into their day to day lives. The study asked rural ERW’s to identify critical or stressful incidents, factors that contribute to their stress and their perspective on supports and coping mechanisms implemented to address these stressful events. Findings indicated that the ERW’s most often identified stressful incidents as those involving children and situations involving significant injury and potential danger for the ERW’s. Contributing factors of stress involved the reaction of the victim’s family, hearing victim’s personal stories and knowing the victim. Another significant contributing factor of stress is exposure to prior trauma, both work related and personal. ERW’s greatest support came from peers and critical incident stress debriefing. Based on these findings, the profession of social work has expanding opportunities to support ERW’s. Social workers must expand their education about the impact of trauma and stress on functioning as well as effective treatment modalities to address stress symptoms. Consideration should also be given to expanding their availability to emergency departments that provide fire and emergency medical services in order for these important members of our community to access supportive services.

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