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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2019 Jun;34(3):335-339. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X19004382.

Lessons in Post-Disaster Self-Care From 9/11 Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians.

Author information

1
1.Edith Cowan University,School of Medical and Health Sciences,Joondalup, Western Australia,Australia.
2
2.Ambulance Victoria,Doncaster, Victoria,Australia.
3
3.Harvard University,Harvard Humanitarian Initiative,Cambridge, Massachusetts,USA.

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.

KEYWORDS:

EMT: emergency medical technician; FDNY: Fire Department of New York; PTSD: posttraumatic stress disorder; SJA: St John Ambulance; WA: Western Australia; WTC: World Trade Center; 9/11; EMT; emergency medical technician; paramedic; self-care

PMID:
31204643
DOI:
10.1017/S1049023X19004382

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