Background to the Research
Ambulance personnel across Australia and NZ in numerous ambulance services have taken their own lives. Anecdotal evidence suggests Critical Incident Stress (CIS) rates
are high in the emergency service community. But how high? How many ambulance personnel within Australasia have indicators consistent with acute stress disorder (ASD)
and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomology? What are the individual ambulance services doing to reduce these potentially high figures? And just as
importantly, what do ambulance personnel across the country believe should occur to reduce the numbers of staff presenting with indicators of these conditions within their
The research proposal put forward is to identify current rates amongst the Australasian Ambulance Services. To be able to discuss these numbers it is vital to compare rates
between ambulance personnel and the “normal population” in order to ascertain if the emergency service population present higher indicators than individuals who are not
regularly subjected to traumatic situations.
Aim of the Research
To identify Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) indicators and rates in Australian/New Zealand (NZ) ambulance personnel and to
observe the initiatives put in place by national ambulance services (inclusive of provisions to reduce the numbers affected).
The primary aim and outcome of this study is to;
- determine if there is a staff perception of shortfalls with identifying and treating ambulance personnel for job related indicators of PTSD or ASD along with other
The secondary aims and outcomes of this study are;
- to assess the current rates of ASD or PTSD indicators within ambulance personnel;
- to identify if there is an elevation in indicators of ASD or PTSD between students in the various universities enrolled in Paramedicine and student ambulance officers,
paramedics, transport and communication officers currently with front line experience. This will be done by comparing the survey responses between the two groups.
- to identify the causes of ambulance personnel stressors; and
- to make recommendations into ambulance specific regions on where those shortfalls are.
A survey with the ability for all Australasian State and Territory based ambulance personnel to answer will be placed securely online (and password protected) on Survey
Monkey. A letter explaining the study and a request for ambulance personnel to complete the questionnaire will be sent to Paramedics Australasia (PA), all paramedic based
teaching universities and all State and Territory ambulance services within Australasia, and all State and Territory ambulance unions who represent ambulance personnel
throughout Australasia. Ambulance personnel will receive the Survey Monkey link to complete from the above various institutions.
Numerous validated ASD and PTSD surveys will be incorporated into one specific ambulance personnel survey for staff to complete. This survey will also be sent to
universities for any students above the age of 18 years enrolled in an undergraduate or post graduate program to complete. These participants will be viewed as the
"general population". Paramedic students will represent a group who are not classed as the general population or classed as those within the ambulance personnel group as
they have had reduced "on road" exposures, that is either no on-road exposure (first year undergraduate students) or limited exposure (not qualified as a Paramedic yet, but
has worked on road). Their data will represent the "middle ground" in the research, meaning we can compare all three groups. The survey will also obtain demographic
data, time of service, location of participant (state only) and self-reported data on feelings towards trauma exposure and any symptoms post these events. A request
to all ambulance services for staffing levels of paramedics, communications staff and transport officers will also occur.
For this proposal, ambulance personnel is a reference in which all paid career staff inclusive of paramedics, communications officers and transport officers are included in
the data collection. Retired ambulance personnel, industrial/mine site paramedics and ambulance volunteers are not included in the data collection process.
Educators and managers will not be included in the population. ASD a nd PTSD indicators are references to individuals who possess signs and symptoms or traits of the
condition but have not been diagnosed by a medical professional. The included validated surveys and the data obtained from them will identify these traits; in order to be
medically diagnosed with the condition a clinical based interview is required.
The data for this research will come from the following areas;
- Current ambulance personnel questionnaires
- A letter has been sent to Paramedics Australasia, all individual State and Territory ambulance services and all unions that provide support to ambulance personnel,
along with the Survey Monkey link to complete the questionnaire.
- Data on ambulance employee ASD and PTSD indicator rates will be collected and analysed. Potential participants will be approximately 12,976 paid ambulance
personnel in Australia and 2,300 in NZ.
A letter has been sent to the universities that have a current paramedic program explaining the research and its importance, along with the Survey Monkey link to complete
the questionnaire. This stream of cohort’s will complete the ASD/PTSD indicators questionnaire and the data will be compared to those with current on road experience. A
letter detailing the same information will also be sent to all student body organisations that assist with student ambulance officers in their initial years of training before they
become paramedics. The data will identify if any increases in ASD or PTSD indicators are evident between the two cohorts. CAA estimates that there are about 6,000
paramedic students in Australia.
State and Territory Ambulance Services
A letter has been sent to all ambulance services explaining the research and its importance, with a request for employee numbers along with the Survey Monkey link to
complete the questionnaire. The services have been asked if they could email through their servers, to gain direct access to staff to be able to complete the questionnaire.
Potential participants will be all 7 State and Territory services within Australia and the two ambulance services from NZ.
It is hoped that with a better understanding of the data, recommendations can be made to potentially limit ambulance personnel paramedic ASD and PTSD symptomology. A
conclusion may also be drawn as to how susceptible new medical emergency responders are too stressful incidents and how those stresses may an impact upon them. By
performing a state by state comparison, correlations may be made between r eported ASD and PTSD rates from across Australasia. Data from the Survey Monkey
questionnaire may establish the concerns of ambulance personnel and may also ascertain what individual state and territories are doing to combat these issues.
Ambulance Workplace Stressors: The Health Impacts on our Ambulance Personnel Research and Results