Close menu


Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Paramedic emotional labour during COVID-19

Hayes, Catherine, Corrie, Ian and Graham, Yitka (2020) Paramedic emotional labour during COVID-19. Journal of Paramedic Practice, 12 (8). ISSN 2041-9457

Item Type: Article


Emotional preparedness is no new phenomenon for paramedic and emergency service healthcare personnel across the world (Buick et al, 2020; Kent et al, 2020). The emergence and rapid spread of COVID-19 globally, in the pandemic we now face, though, has ensured an impact on human emotion, suffering and loss of the greatest resonance since World War Two. As a consequence, the lived experiences of front line healthcare staff, of which paramedics are an integral and invaluable part, have been irrevocably changed in terms of their usual everyday clinical and professional practice.
The impact of the pandemic has had a tangible resonance across all health and social care professional groups, but the context specificity of providing acute emergency care provision for COVID-19 patients is nowhere more evident than in paramedic practice (Bergen-Cico, et al, 2020). High volumes of COVID19 patients present as severely oxygen deprived and in need of urgent hospitalisation, which sadly has become a new norm for paramedic and front line healthcare personnel. Added to the fact that the disease state they present with being highly contagious and potentially deadly (as evidenced by the recorded mortality figures of medical, allied health and carers) the pressure that currently faces paramedic staff in providing care and often the final opportunity of families to say goodbye to loved ones as they are transported away for oxygen therapy and sometimes ventilation is immeasurable. The temporal impact of COVID-19 has been dramatic; over the initial eight-week period of lockdown, the, the United Kingdom has witnessed over 35,000 deaths directly attributable to the condition, many of which have occurred in community based settings (Roser et al. 2020). The ripple effect upon those who have lost loved ones, in addition to the front-line personnel caring for COVD-19 patients is something so tangible and raw on a human level to those affected, that the impact of this will be felt for generations yet to come. In the midst of human suffering and the human impact of this condition are paramedics, whose psychological wellbeing is imperative to their role, and perhaps most importantly their own capacity to cope, in dealing with patients and their families and carers, for whom death may be imminent, unexpected and under difficult circumstances, without loved ones present
because of the necessity of enforced and very stringent social distancing measures. The emotional cost
of such scenarios has long been documented within the existing published l healthcare professional
literature base from parallel disciplinary fields such as nursing practice (Schmidt and Diestel, 2014;
Theodosius, 2008).
The aim of this article is to raise awareness of the concept of emotional labour that underpins the role
of paramedics at the front line of patient care. The concept of emotional labour is often overlooked in
relation to the personal cost of having to cope, particularly amidst the intensity of this pandemic, which
is a new scenario and rapidly changing, fraught with uncertainty and unexpected outcomes.

PDF (Final Version)
jpar.2020.0024_R2.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (1MB) | Preview
[img] PDF
Paramedic emotional.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (180kB)

More Information

Depositing User: Catherine Hayes


Item ID: 12120
Identification Number:
ISSN: 2041-9457
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Catherine Hayes: ORCID iD
ORCID for Yitka Graham: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2020 09:01
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2021 03:38


Author: Catherine Hayes ORCID iD
Author: Yitka Graham ORCID iD
Author: Ian Corrie

University Divisions

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing > School of Nursing and Health Sciences


Sciences > Health Sciences

Actions (login required)

View Item (Repository Staff Only) View Item (Repository Staff Only)