Chapter 1: Understanding the work

When the work is sensationalized

Sensationalized TV programming may give friends and family a skewed view of the job. The news typically focuses on sensational stories such as shootings and serious motor vehicle accidents. Paramedics may find it very difficult to see traumatic events they’ve responded to shown and discussed repeatedly in the news. 

Sometimes the details are misreported or distorted, adding another layer of complexity as they process the event. When police investigations and court cases result, paramedics can be re-exposed to the events and may relive them over weeks, months, or even years. 

The stress in these circumstances can be enormous and it increases the challenge of keeping home and work life separate. Ongoing reminders in news reports, police, justice, and judicial hearings may trigger unwanted intrusions in the daily routine. 

Were you there?

Friends and family may call to find out if the paramedic was part of the call; they may want to know details. The interest in the drama rather than the impact on the paramedic can be insensitive and hurtful, making a difficult situation worse. Paramedics may find responding to questions about “gory stories” trivializes their work and minimizes the impact on them. These questions can be more alienating than supportive. In their curiosity, friends and family may neglect the needs of the paramedic in their life and overlook their suffering.