The lived experiences of first responders during emergency events involving children
Given the fact that first responders are often the first point of contact with children in emergency events that could potentially be appraised as traumatic and have long lasting detrimental effects, the purpose of this study was to examine the lived experience of first responders within a Midwest Metropolitan Fire Department during emergency events involving children. Using descriptive phenomenology methods, 16 interviews were conducted with eight first responders. Results indicated four phenomena related to experienced child reactions during emergency events 1) lack of reactions, 2) emotion-based reactions, 3) information seeking reactions, and 4) observant reactions. First responders identified their role in supporting children on the scene in using distraction, providing calming and reassurance, and providing education. Current systems of emotional support identified by first responders included family members, neighbors, police officers, and hospital staff. Gaps in services identified by first responders included specialized and dedicated support for children and effective first responder training.
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