The purpose of this paper is to understand the need and resources firefighters have to deal with death and dying (D&D) that they encounter whilst on duty and to present a curriculum to support D&D issues for firefighters.
A qualitative methodology involving focus groups was conducted in two fire stations in Spain. The sample was 38 male participants with a mean age of 46 y/o (range: 30-59 years) and an average tenure of employment of 18 years (range: 6-35 years). Data were subjected to a thematic analysis. Dual coding of the transcripts in addition to member checking enhanced analysis.
Nine themes emerged: witnessing D&D during rescue operations; memories about D&D and trauma; impact on firefighter’s families; decision-making process under stress; teamwork: protective and self-support; inadequate D&D preparation and training; adequate technical and physical training preparation; relationship between equipment, legal-moral obligation, and victims’ outcomes; communication issues: toward the victim and/or their relatives. These themes were subsequently framed into three basic domains: personal impact of D&D, team impact of D&D, and victim impact. Each domain, in its turn, is covered by three curriculum topics. The curriculum’s pedagogy is primarily based on experimental-reflective activities during 16 study-hours.
The absence of female participants. All fire stations were in cities with no more than 150,000 inhabitants.
Individuals who take this curriculum will: increase their ability for self-care and resilience; improve teamwork, leadership skills, and to decrease burnout; provide more effective care for victims; provide skills to cope with compassion fatigue; reduced the levels of post-traumatic stress disorders.
Understanding firefighters’ needs with relation to D&D, and assessing the resources available to mitigate these issues will provide a comprehensive approach to their education and promote health both personally and professionally. A comparable curriculum or proposal has not been previously identified.
Leiva Santos, J.P., García-Llana, H., Pablo, V., Liébana, M. and Kellehear, A. (2018), "Death in the Spanish fire services: a curriculum development study", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 71-82. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJES-04-2017-0020
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