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Design & implementation of a peer support programme for prehospital care providers
journal contributionposted on 15.10.2018, 00:00 by Alan BattAlan Batt, AS Al-Hajeri, B Corrigan, M Navalta, B Haskins, F Cummins
Previous international study findings have determined that prehospital care providers, including EMTs and Paramedics, are among the highest risk group for stress, trauma, and burnout. The stressors associated with prehospital work have the ability to accumulate over time, as well as occurring due to critical incidents. A peer support programme was designed based on international best-practice. Staff were invited to apply, and subsequently they went through a rigorous screening and application process. Those who were successful in this process completed a 1-day peer support training programme. Twenty-six peer supporters are now currently in place across the company, supported by two peer support coordinators. A peer support pathway was developed covering emergency and non-emergency incidents, which also allows for referral of staff to mental health professionals if required. To date the peer support workers have engaged with 12 cases of stress amongst employees. Six of these incidents (50%) were due to a critical incident occurring on duty. The remainder were due to family (n=2) other work related issues (n=3) or cumulative stress (n=1). Six (50%) of the individuals who sought assistance from the peer support programme were employed less than one year, and eight of the twelve (67%) were under the age of 30. Males (n=9; 75%) were more likely to access the peer support programme than females (n=3; 25%). Advanced life support providers (n=7; 58%) accessed the service more frequently than basic life support providers (n=5; 42%).