Chapter 3: Impact of the job

Reiationships and family

The demands and stresses of the job can impact everyone in the family, as well as their relationships with one another.

The paramedic

Paramedics who ignore the stresses of work may instead turn to behaviours that attempt to numb feelings and avoid thinking about scenes they’ve witnessed. These include:

  • Substance use and abuse.

  • Infidelity.

  • Reckless gambling.

  • Other impulsive or addictive behaviours.

Left unattended these risky behaviours can break relationships and families apart.

The spouse or partner

If you are a spouse, you will be affected by your partner’s psychological state. You may:

  • Feel left in the dark when the paramedic in your life doesn’t talk to you about their work experiences.

  • Be concerned or alarmed as you witness trauma reactions and don’t understand these or know how to help.

  • Feel isolated, abandoned and jealous when the paramedic turns to their work family in difficult times. This may happen out of a paramedic’s:

    • Desire to protect the family from trauma.

    • Sense that their work family better understands what they’re going through.

The children

Paramedics may inadvertently take out the strain of the job on their children. Parent-child relationships may be negatively impacted as the paramedic becomes less available or interested, or overly protective or harsh in punishments. All of these reactions to job stress can create an unhappy home environment.

Reassessing life choices

Witnessing traumas and caring for people at the end of life may bring into sharper focus the shortness of life and the importance of making every minute count. Some paramedics find themselves re-examining their lives, ensuring their time is spent in ways and with people that matter most.