“If He Dies, I’ll Kill You.” Violence, Paramedics and Impression-Management

Contributions from European Symbolic Interactionists: Conflict and Cooperation

ISBN: 978-1-78441-856-4, eISBN: 978-1-78441-855-7

ISSN: 0163-2396

Publication date: 2 July 2015


In this chapter we describe how paramedics deal with verbal and physical violence to expand on the available knowledge on this subject and relate it to their work-specific context. Our research consists of interviews in two large Dutch cities. We adopt a dramaturgical framework to discuss our findings. Paramedics initially ignore verbal abuse because they value the well-being of the patient above their own emotional needs. Furthermore, they utilize dramaturgical strategies – which entail emphasizing specific hallmarks of their work, such as compassion and professionalism – so that bystanders feel that the patient is in good hands. Not all of the paramedics interviewed proved capable of applying these strategies, resulting in more frequent exposure to physical violence for those paramedics. We conclude that managing emotions through impression-management, particularly one's own emotions and the emotions of bystanders, is crucial. Our recommendation is to further investigate the knowledge and skills present amongst paramedics in a larger qualitative follow-up study, and to repeat the study among other public professionals so that they may reap the benefits and (more) physical violence can be prevented in the future. Few studies exist that allow paramedics to describe their own experiences with violence on the job. In this chapter we let the paramedics do the talking.



Müller, T. and van der Giessen, M. (2015), "“If He Dies, I’ll Kill You.” Violence, Paramedics and Impression-Management", Contributions from European Symbolic Interactionists: Conflict and Cooperation (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 45), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 177-193. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0163-239620150000045009

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