Stress and Performance in Emergency Medical Services

Authored by: James L. Szalma

Human Factors and Ergonomics of Prehospital Emergency Care

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781482242515
eBook ISBN: 9781315280172
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



Stress is ubiquitous in modern work, and its effects can be costly in terms of performance and health as well as in public safety and well-being. There is clear evidence that the stress associated with EMS work incurs such costs (e.g., Cydulka et al., 1989; Marmar et al., 1996; Holland, 2011; Donnelly, 2012; Halpern et al., 2012) and that the stress can be acute or chronic (Halpern & Maunder, 2011; Adriaenssens et al., 2015). In addition, stressful events tend to be characteristics of the specific contexts or situations in which they occur (e.g., the patient, bystanders, dangerous conditions), organizational factors (e.g., staff shortages, lack of training or resources, perceived unfairness in the distribution of responsibilities; Donnelly et al., 2014), and characteristics of the person (e.g., general life or work stress; feelings of helplessness; Halpern et al., 2012). In this chapter, I provide an overview of the stress construct, theories of stress, potential avenues for mitigation, and gaps in our understanding of stress and human performance. The issues discussed are relevant across most work domains but specifically germane to the contextual and task factors that affect the performance and well-being of EMS personnel.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.