Coping With Victims Emotions

Today we have a guest post from Sally Davison. Sally is one of the masterminds behind the website If you’re looking for a degree in fire science, Sally’s site offers what just may be the most comprehensive, no nonsense resources on the inter-web.

Sally also knows her way around the EMT field and has some advice for new EMT’s preparing themselves for the prehospital environment. She welcomes your comments at  Please give her a warm welcome.

There’s much more to being an EMT than just providing emergency medical care alone; in most situations, you are much more important than doctors and specialists because your timely response and actions help:

  • Save lives
  • Save limbs and prevent lifelong and debilitating disabilities
  • Prevent brain damage and other consequences that happen when first aid is not provided immediately
  • Prevent people from going into shock
  • Stop uncontrolled bleeding

There are many other ways in which EMTs are extremely useful, and because of this, most victims are grateful for and satisfied with your work. However, there are some occasions when you are called upon to do much more than just administer first aid or provide medical care.

Many victims are in a stage of emotional distress because of the trauma they’ve gone through – whether it’s a case of an accident or a crime or abuse, they’re likely to be shaken up badly. Some are able to stabilize their moods and get back to a sense of normalcy; others however, could end up reacting badly. So when you’re preparing to be an EMT, here are a few things you need to be prepared for in order to cope with victims’ emotions:

  • Unfair blame: If there are multiple victims and one or more of them die before you can get to the scene of the emergency, one or more of the survivors could blame you for their deaths because you did not get there in time to save them or because you did not do enough. It’s not that they do it deliberately, just that they are unable to act rationally and take logical decisions because of the trauma. They could rant and rave at you and call you names – no matter what they do, don’t let it affect your psyche because your job depends on your ability to hold your own and remain calm even under a great deal of stress.
  • Uncontrollable violence: Some victims could get violent and attack you because of the adrenaline surge that rushes through them at the time of and after the incident – they are just blindly groping around for a way to release their pent-up emotions. If this happens, try to protect yourself and also ensure that the victim does not do more harm to themselves. Also, there may be times when the perpetrator of the crime or abuse is still around and gets violent with you. So you must be prepared for any eventuality.
  • Resistance to treatment: Some victims are in a state of shock and may resist your attempts to stabilize them and provide them with the necessary first aid. You need to know how to talk to them and calm them down because their lives may depend on it.

Your job as an EMT involves much more than providing first aid alone, and you must be prepared to cope with victims’ emotions and not let them stress you out.

More Guest Posts:

The Greatest Generation By: Matthew Bergland

Back In The Day By: Chris Framstead

EMS Response to Sexual Assault By: Jimmy Futrelle

How Being Burned Out Can Ignite a Rebirth By: Jim Hoffman



  1. […] off with a discussion about moving past medical mistakes and a guest post by Sally Davidson about coping with victims emotions. It’s always nice to get an outside perspective; thanks Sally. Then I stirred a bit of […]