A qualitative exploration: life after the emergency services

Mairéad Bracken-Scally (School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Sinéad McGilloway (Department of Psychology, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Publication date: 7 November 2016



Much has been written about the impact of emergency service work on personnel, but very little is known about the lives of personnel once they have retired. The purpose of this paper is to explore the experiences and assess the quality of life (QoL) of emergency service retirees (ESRs) and to ascertain the possible longer term effects of emergency service work.


A series of one-to-one interviews was conducted with ESRs (n=10). These were then transcribed and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.


A number of key emergent themes and associated sub-themes were identified from the analysis including: retirement as a major life change; potential impact of working role and unique aspects of emergency service work; trauma; and health and ageing more generally. Overall, the findings highlight the unique experiences of ESRs and the potential longer term impact of emergency service work on QoL in retirement.


In an under-researched area, the findings point towards a need to improve the transition to retirement for ESRs and, in particular, to enhance available supports, information and guidance for retirees, both prior to and following retirement.



The authors would like to thank all those who supported the development and implementation of this study including both of the emergency services who kindly participated in the study and, in particular, all of the current and former emergency services personnel who took part in the research. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the support of Professor Jeffrey T. Mitchell, Sharon Gallagher and the National Ambulance Service CISM Committee.


Bracken-Scally, M. and McGilloway, S. (2016), "A qualitative exploration: life after the emergency services", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 158-173. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJES-04-2016-0009

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