Sarah Christopher
Journal of Paramedic Practice, Vol. 7, Iss. 12, 08 Dec 2015, pp 610 - 617

Black or gallows humour has long been recognised as having therapeutic
value, particularly when used by individuals dealing with traumatic incidents.
With this in mind, it is no surprise that this type of humour is commonly
used by emergency services personnel. It is a bona fide coping mechanism
which can contribute to the resilience, health and wellbeing of emergency
services personnel but one which, to the uninitiated, may appear callous and
uncaring. With student paramedics now taking the higher educational route
into paramedicine, they will have had less exposure to ambulance service
culture before qualifying than would have been the case with the old 'in
service' pathway. This often results in the type of humour employed by their
new colleagues coming as something of a culture shock. This article hopes to
go some way to explain why this type of humour is employed, what purposes it
serves, and prepare students so that it may appear less shocking when they first
encounter it.

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