21 Narrative Inquiry Into Emergency Medical Services Culture and Traumatic Experiences
In recent years, high rates of suicidal behaviour and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnoses have been documented amongst paramedics, both nationally and internationally. Quantitative and mixed methods research has been utilized to understand this issue more fully and has led to the current supposition that PTSD and suicidal behaviours are most likely caused by acute and chronic exposures to traumatic situations. The available research is firmly rooted within distinct disciplines largely excluding the participatory contributions of paramedics themselves. Also, there is little qualitative research available which examines this phenomenon. As a result, current knowledge may be incomplete, lacking vital understanding of how paramedics experience the traumatic situations to which they are exposed and how Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizational culture influences these experiences. To find new understandings of this phenomenon, I intend on utilizing applied qualitative and interdisciplinary research methodologies, focusing on three-dimensional narrative inquiry as my primary approach, to broaden understanding surrounding the lived experiences of paramedics. Further, my aim is to engage participants as active agents in the research process and to work with participants to codesign recommendations that are relevant and applicable to their lived experiences. Upon completing my research, my intention is to work with senior leaders within the industry to explore findings and discuss research recommendations to determine if any of the limited recommendations could be implemented in the larger environment. Additionally, I intend to expand the research to a larger population with a view to validating generalizability for the overall paramedic community. My findings will also add to limited existing literature and could be used as a starting point for further inquiry.