Human factors within paramedic practice:the forgotten paradigm

It would seem hard to imagine how you could draw a comparison between a commercial airline pilot struggling to land a stricken plane in a storm and a paramedic fighting to save the life of a patient in cardiac arrest. Although very different circumstances, they both have one thing in common: that is, they are both vulnerable to a condition known as ‘the human factor’. Examples of where Human Factors (HFs) exist within the prehospital profession can be various, common examples are environmental distractions e.g. noise from bystanders, mobile phones, machines, or more simply caused by lack of sleep and inadequate nourishment. This article discusses human factors within the prehospital environment and will highlight the benefits of being able to recognize and act upon them, with a specific focus upon the impact they can have on the ambulance practitioner operating in the field. It discusses human factors training and recognizes the role of crew resource management (CRM) and its importance within the prehospital profession.

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