The myth of ‘helpful fear’

02 December 2019
Volume 11 · Issue 12

It is with a heavy heart that I write this last column for the Journal of Paramedic Practice. My 12-month dabble at being a columnist has flown—it feels like yesterday that I nervously reviewed the first edition! My objective was to expose the mystery of consultant paramedics, and share my thoughts and working life. I hope my monthly ramblings have achieved that.

For this final instalment, I wanted to share some recent thoughts on fear—not the adrenaline-fuelled exhilaration we seek from rollercoasters or skydiving. Instead, the subtle, ever-present, damaging fear that stubbornly continues as some form of horrendous improvement methodology.

Fear is without doubt used to a lesser extent nowadays; we are improving but seem unable to eradicate it completely. When I engage in conversation on the subject, I hear claims of ‘helpful fear’ and I fundamentally disagree. Caution, yes; measured, shared and appropriately considered decision making, yes; but decisions founded on fear is destructive for the decision itself, and for the person making it.

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