The public safety workforce, which includes emergency medical service (EMS), fire, search and rescue, and more, is the first line of defense for public health and safety during emergencies. COVID-19 demonstrated their indispensable role, as well as the rising concerns of burnout and moral injury in this workforce.
However, the public safety workforce has often received less attention in programs to address burnout and moral injury. Research has largely focused on addressing mental health and stress/trauma for public safety workers, with limited evidence specific to this workforce across the Actionable Strategy areas highlighted in the tables above. Therefore, we summarize strategies with evidence for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and firefighters and recommend reviewing the actionable strategies for health organizations.
Relational breakdown is core to the experience of burnout and moral injury. Establishing trust provides an essential base from which to address the relational factors of burnout and moral injury. Building trust requires strategies to engage and protect workers and learners, support and develop leadership, establish shared governance structures, align values, address inequities, and establish measurement and accountability for well-being. Explore strategies:
A number of factors contributing to operational breakdown have been shown to drive burnout and moral injury. Resolving these operational factors will involve utilizing the relational strategies above to engage workers in designing changes to workflows to reduce operational inefficiencies, creating safe staffing, ensuring fair and meaningful recognition and rewards, and providing appropriate resources for workers to effectively address their mental health and stress/trauma. Explore strategies: