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Retirement Policies and Support for Emergency Service Personnel: The Transition to Retirement

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 April 2016

Mairéad Bracken-Scally*
School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin
Sinéad McGilloway
Department of Psychology, Maynooth University – National University of Ireland Maynooth
Jeffrey T. Mitchell
Department of Emergency Health Services; University of Maryland, Baltimore County
La correspondance et les demenades de tire-à-part doivent être adressées à: / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Mairéad Bracken-Scally, B.A., PhD School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health Sciences 24 D’Olier Street Trinity College Dublin Dublin 2, Ireland (


The aim of this study was to explore policies and procedures to support employees who retire from the emergency services. Interviews were conducted with participants who were familiar with existing policies and procedures in a large ambulance (n = 8) and fire (n = 6) service in Ireland. Four key themes were identified: (1) “I don’t think it’s a job at 65 to be running out on an emergency ambulance”; (2) “They do genuinely feel a wee bit isolated”; (3) improving the “cultural shock”; and (4) “I just keep going and hope for the best”. Findings point towards retirement as a major life change and highlight a need for more structured, effective pre-retirement preparation. Factors unique to emergency service personnel include the physical and emotional stress involved in emergency service; a strong identification with the service; and a lack of clarity about rules and entitlements, requiring better information and preparation.


L’objectif principal de cette étude a été d’examiner les politiques et les procédures pour soutenir les employés prenant leur retraite de leur travail aux services d’urgence. On a mené des entrevues avec les participants qui connaissaient bien les politiques et les procédures actuelles d’un grand ambulance (n = 8) et le service d’incendie (n = 6) en Irlande. Quatre thèmes principaux ont été révelés: (1) «Je ne pense pas que ce soit un bon travail d’etre ambulancier d’urgence quand on a 65 ans»; (2) “ils se sentent véritablement un tout petit peu isolé”; (3) l’amélioration du «choc culturel»; et (4) «Je continue a m’avancer en espérant que tout aille pour le mieux. » Les conclusions indiquent que la retraite est un changement majeur de la vie, et mettent en évidence la nécessité pour une préparation de pré-retraite plus structurée et efficace. Les éléments uniques au personnel des services d’urgence comprennent: le stress physique et émotionnel intense impliqué dans les services d’urgence; une forte identification avec ce service; et un manque de clarté sur les règles et les droits, exigeant meilleure renseignements et préparation pour prendre sa retraite.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2016 

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