Chapter 1: Understanding the work

A career in trauma

The grief expert says
Irene Renzenbrink shares her personal story of burn out.(3:22)Video transcript

Paramedics and other first responders serve and protect by maintaining safety and security. The public look to them for their expertise in bringing calm to chaos and in responding to sometimes catastrophic situations. First responders operate in uncertainty and sometimes danger. They bring some of the best aspects of humanity to some of our darkest times through their compassion, good judgement, and commitment to assisting fellow human beings.  

Many people see first responders as heroes – strength and invincibility personified. This may do paramedics a disservice; it reinforces the false message that they’re impervious to the impact of working with multiple crises and traumas, sometimes on a daily basis. In fact, paramedics face high rates of job turnover, divorce, alcohol and other substance abuse, and negative health outcomes, suggesting new approaches are needed to support paramedics.