Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Fear, Familiarity, and the Perception of Risk: A Quantitative Analysis of Disaster-Specific Concerns of Paramedics

  • Erin C. Smith, Frederick M. Burkle and Frank L. Archer

Abstract

Introduction: Paramedics play an integral role in the response to and management of disasters and mass casualty events. Providing a core component of the front line response to disasters, paramedics potentially expose themselves to a variety of health and safety risks, including physical injury, death, communicable disease, and psychological effects. The health and safety risks to emergency service personnel were highlighted by the deaths of firefighters, paramedics, and police during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the infection, illness, and deaths of paramedics and emergency health care staff during the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003.

Objective: Given that a willing and able prehospital workforce is a vital component of any successful response to a disaster situation, the present study explored paramedics' perception of risk and willingness to work, with a specific focus on identifying which type of disasters that paramedics associate with greater levels of fear, familiarity, and risk.

Methods: A total of 175 paramedics completed a survey ranking 40 disaster scenarios for levels of fear and familiarity.

Results: The results indicate that paramedics ranked nuclear and radiological events and outbreaks of new and highly infectious disasters highest for fear and unfamiliarity. This has implications for preparedness, education, and training.

(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2011;5:46-53)

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Address correspondence and reprint requests to Erin C. Smith, Monash University, Department of Community Emergency Health and Paramedic Practice, Alfred Hospital, Lower Ground Floor, Medical School Building, Alfred Lane, Prahran, Victoria 3181, Australia (e-mail: Erin.Smith@med.monash.edu.au).

References

Hide All
1.Wilson, R, Crouch, EAC.Risk-Benefit Analysis. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press; 2001.
2.Slovic, P.Perception of risk. Science. 1987;236:280285.
3.Flynn, J, Slovic, P, Mertz, C.Gender, race, and perception of environmental health risks. Risk Anal. 1994;14:11011108.
4.Finucane, M, Slovic, P, Mertz, C.Gender, race, perceived risk: the “white male” effect. Health Risk Soc. 2000;2:159172.
5.Epstein, S.Integration of the cognitive and the psycho-dynamic unconscious. Am Psychol. 1994;49:709724.
6.Slovic, P.Terrorism as hazard: a new species of trouble. Risk Anal. 2002;22:425426.
7.Tippett, V, Archer, F, Kelly, H.The Australian Prehospital Pandemic Risk Perception Study and an Examination of New Public Health Roles for Ambulance Services in Pandemic Response. Brisbane: Australian Centre for Prehospital Research, Queensland Ambulance Service; 2007.
8.Slovic, P, Weber, E.Perception of risk posed by extreme events. Paper presented at: Risk Management Strategies in an Uncertain World Conference; April 2002; Palisades, NY.
9.Fischhoff, B, Lichtenstein, S, Slovic, P.How safe is safe enough? A psychometric study of attitudes towards technological risks and benefits. Policy Sci. 1978;9:127152.
10.Slovic, P, Fischhoff, B, Lichtenstein, S.Behavioural decision theory on risk and safety. Acta Psychol. 1984;56:183203.
11.Benthin, A, Slovic, P, Severson, H.A psychometric study of adolescent risk perception. J Adolesc. 1993;16:153168.
12.Smith, E, Morgans, A, Qureshi, K, Archer, F, Burkle, F JrParamedics' perceptions of risk and willingness to work during disasters. Aust J Emerg Manage. 2008;23 (2):1420.
13.Reilly, MJ, Markenson, D, DiMaggio, C.Comfort level of emergency medical service providers in responding to weapons of mass destruction events: impact of training and equipment. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2007;22:297303.
14.Qureshi, K, Gershon, RRM, Sherman, MF.Health care workers' ability and willingness to report to duty during catastrophic disasters. J Urban Health. 2005;82:378388.
15.DiMaggio, C, Markeson, D, Loo, GT.The willingness of U.S. emergency medical technicians to respond to terrorist incidents. Biosecur Bioterror. 2005;3:331337.
16.Syrett, JL, Benitez, JG, Livingston, WH.Will emergency health care providers respond to mass casualty incidents? Prehosp Emerg Care. 2007;11:4954.
17.White, GF.Foreword. In: Slovic P, ed. The Perception of Risk. Sterling, VA: Earthscan Publications; 2006.
18.Starr, C.Social benefit versus technological risk. Science. 1969;165:12321238.
19.Tversky, A, Kahneman, D.Judgement under uncertainty: heuristics and biases. Science. 1974;185:11271131.
20.Slovic, P.The Perception of Risk. Sterling, VA: Earthscan Publications; 2006.
21.Bushfires death toll. Victoria Police Web site. http://www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?Document_ID=19280. Published February 13, 2009. Accessed March 5, 2009.
22.Lichtenstein, S, Slovic, P, Fischhoff, B, Layman, M, Combs, B.Judged frequency of lethal events. J Exp Psychol. 1978;4:551578.
23.Combs, B, Slovic, P.Newspaper coverage of causes of death. Journalism Q. 1979;56:837843.
24.Morgan, MG, Slovic, P, Nair, I.Powerline frequency electric and magnetic fields: a pilot study of risk perception. Risk Anal. 1985;5:139149.
25.Ahern, J, Galea, S, Resnick, H, Vlahov, D.Television images and probable post traumatic stress disorder after September 11: the role of background characteristics, event exposure, and perievent panic. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2004;192:217226.
26.Erikson, K.Toxic reckoning: business faces a new kind of fear. Harv Bus Rev. 1990(January-February)118126.
27.Erikson, K.Radiation's lingering dread. Bull At Sci. 1991(March)3439.
28.Erikson, K.A New Species of Trouble: Explorations in Disaster, Trauma, and Community. New York: WW Norton; 1994.
29.Kasperson, R, Renn, O, Slovic, P.The social amplification of risk: a conceptual framework. Risk Anal. 1988;8:177187.
30.Mitchell, RC, Carson, TC.Using Surveys to Value Public Goods: The Contingent Valuation Method. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future Press; 1989.
31.Breakwell, GM.The Psychology of Risk. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 2007.
32.Slovic, P, Fischhoff, B, Lichtenstein, S.Rating the risks. Environment. 1979;21:1420.
33.Lee, TR.Social and psychological consequences of the Chernobyl accident: an overview of the first decade. Paper presented at: International Conference on Health Consequences of the Chernobyl and Other Radiological Accidents; 1995; Geneva.
34.Loewenstein, GF, Weber, EU, Hsee, CK, Welch, E.Risk as feelings. Psychol Bull. 2001;127:267286.
35.Damasio, AR.Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. New York: G.P. Putnam; 1994..
36.Kellerman, AL, Somes, G, Rivara, FP, Lee, RK, Banton, JG.Injuries and deaths due to firearms in the home. J Trauma. 1998;45:263267..

Keywords

Fear, Familiarity, and the Perception of Risk: A Quantitative Analysis of Disaster-Specific Concerns of Paramedics

  • Erin C. Smith, Frederick M. Burkle and Frank L. Archer

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed