I’ve seen something traumatic in my ambulance role

Sadly, in the ambulance service, you’re much more likely to experience something traumatic in your role than the general population. While you might feel like you’re able to cope in the moment, these situations can have a long-lasting effect on your mental wellbeing. Healthy processing of such incidents is essential for ambulance staff and volunteers: to reset your stress response, to file events as past, and to move on to the next job.

“Taking patients away from their loved ones when you knew that it would be the last time their family saw them takes a toll on you..”

Mark Wright Paramedic, Bridlington Ambulance Station

There are things you can do in the first 24 hours, the next 48, and beyond, to help you recognise the impact of what happened to you and try to ensure the experience does not cause you long-term trauma.

You might also find it useful to talk to someone who wasn’t involved in the situation. They might be able to talk you through what happened, and help you understand it (and your feelings about it) better. There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it.

You’ll find some starting points below.

The Ambulance Staff Charity

The Ambulance Staff Charity (TASC) provides services to support the mental health, physical rehabilitation, and financial wellbeing of the UK’s ambulance staff, their family members, students, and ambulance service volunteers. You can call their wellbeing team on 02477 987 922, 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

  • UK-wide

Coping with what you’ve experienced during coronavirus: ambulance

This guide from Mind is designed help you make sense of the things you’ve seen and experienced as an emergency responder in the ambulance service during coronavirus.

It explores some the feelings you may be going through, experiences other responders have shared, tools and strategies to cope with difficult feelings and experiences, and how to deal with any long-lasting impacts to your working and personal life.

It’s available in both English and Welsh.

  • 20 min read
  • UK-wide

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem you may develop after traumatic events. You’re not alone. These pages explain causes, symptoms and self-care tips.

  • 10 min read
  • UK-wide

Understanding my response to trauma and stress: ambulance

Your role might well involve regular and frequent exposure to the kinds of events and situations that most people never encounter.

This page explains what happens to us – biologically, psychologically and socially – when we’re exposed to potentially traumatic events. It includes a video example from a first responder who attended a fatal avalanche.

It was produced for volunteer responders in Scotland, but the information is applicable to any emergency personnel.

  • 10 min read
  • Scotland

How to manage stress and anxiety: Ambulance

91% of ambulance staff and volunteers have experienced stress and poor mental health. This booklet has practical tips and suggestions to help.

  • 15 min read
  • UK-wide

Looking for more tips, ideas and suggestions?