Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

First Advisor

Sandy L. Hunter

Department Affiliation

Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

Second Advisor

Bill Young

Department Affiliation

Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

Third Advisor

Sarah Morris

Department Affiliation

Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

Abstract

The paramedic profession is an inherently difficult, dangerous and stressful profession. The paramedic is constantly barraged with acute stressors during the performance of his duties. These stressors have predictable, documented, negative effects on performance. The acute and chronic exposure to stress can negatively impact the safety and the well being of the paramedic. These stressors, if not successfully managed, can also result in negative effects to patients. Despite the overwhelming presence of stress in the paramedic environment, most paramedics receive little or no training to successfully perform under stress. One exception was a program called Trauma Lanes that was held at the National EMS Academy in Lafayette, Louisiana from 2009-2012, as part of the Accelerated Paramedic Education Program. This program, based on a similar model developed by the United States Air Force Pararescue Paramedic Program, trains paramedics to overcome the negative effects of stress using a combination of desensitization and overtraining techniques. A retrospective analysis of student performance scores during Trauma Lanes was performed in order to determine the effectiveness of the program. In addition, a survey was distributed to 71 graduates of the Trauma Lanes program who are now practicing paramedics in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi in order to obtain additional data on the effectiveness of the program. The results indicated that stress could be effectively replicated in a simulated environment and that student performance is negatively impacted by the simulated stress. Students show significant improvements in performance after 12 simulations and continued improvement through the end of 19 simulations. The research also indicated that more simulations were needed to achieve optimal performance levels. The alumni survey responses indicated that the training received in the Trauma Lanes Program was crucial to prepare them for the effects of stress and successfully perform as a paramedic while under stress in real life situations.

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