Emergency Transport Crew: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Prevention Program
Keywords:post-traumatic stress disorder, critical incident stress, emergency medical services, helicopter emergency medical services, quality improvement
Background: The incidences of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among critical care nurses, emergency room nurses, and paramedics range from 20 to 33%. PTSD is associated with a lower quality of life (QOL), occupational impairments, physical health decline, and increases the risk of premature death. Research supports prevention and surveillance measures for post-traumatic stress disorder in emergency medical service providers, but the practice is not routinely done.
Methods: A multi-purpose quality improvement project focused on educating transport crew members about PTSD. Other interventions emphasized anti-stigma lessons, resiliency assistance, and coping skills training. The pilot provided surveillance efforts, employed an early organizational PTSD recognition, and immediate debriefing for at-risk personnel at three Air Evac Lifeteam bases.
Results: After the QI interventions, most crew members’ overall post-test PCL-5 scores were lowered by 12.5%. Another measure of the QI success was the Professional Quality of Life score improvement. Specially, the compassion satisfaction average level increased by 14% and the average burnout level decreased by of 15%.
Conclusions: The QI project demonstrated the transport crew members’ well-being can be positively influenced by a PTSD prevention and surveillance program. These interventions offer a promising reduction in the prevalence of stress and PTSD. A nationwide practice change with these project interventions could improve the mental health of helicopter emergency medical personnel.
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