Ambulance Employees Association – Scoping Literature Reviews drawing on qualitative literature to address the physical, psychological, psychobiological, and psychosocial health of operational ambulance staff and interventions to address the impact of workplace stressors.
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Paramedics have in many ways been ‘the forgotten profession’ within the healthcare system. This situation has arisen due to the tendency to traditionally ‘silo’ health professions into their specific disciplines. It is also a consequence of the physical separation of out-of-hospital care from hospital and other community clinical work that has tended to create a barrier to inter-professional understanding and collaboration, and to the fact that, in Australia, paramedics have often been in a portfolio other than health. The result has been that ambulance personnel and organisations are faced with the legacy of, and negative effects on, mental well-being that their role and the environments they work within create. The nature of the work, the uncontrolled and often unpredictable environments, the everyday experience of trauma, and the cumulative nature of that trauma all play a key role in the development and impact of mental distress and psychological injury. Organisational and occupational factors such as workload, work demands, shift work, limited time for debriefing or downtime, the hierarchical nature of supervision, and the lack of recognition are clearly shown to have effects on the well-being of ambulance personnel that are as significant as, if not greater than, the nature of the work itself. The following excerpt from a submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry into the Mental health and well-being of emergency first responders succinctly identifies the operational and organisational factors which influence mental health and well-being within the pre-hospital setting. This commissioned review brings together the available literature from both peer-reviewed articles, public sources, and senate submissions to outline the effect of emergency medical response work on the psychological, psychosocial, and physical health of paramedics, ambulance officers, ambulance volunteers, and call-takers.
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