Firefighters Supporting Firefighters: Peer Supporters Perspectives


(Video & Handout)


This presentation outlines the findings of a small yet impactful study exploring the experiences of Peer Support Workers in an Irish Fire based EMS organisation. It was noted that there was a gap in the literature pertaining to the voices of those first responders who provide peer support to their colleagues and so a qualitative research approach utilising semi structured interviews was carried out. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to examine the results and findings revealed four master themes, namely Giving Back, Old versus New, Personal Transformations and Frustrations. These, along with their twelve superordinate themes, will be presented using direct quotes from participants transcripts. Much of the research on peer support in first responders reports the negative effects of critical incident stress but this study demonstrates that there are positives to be gleaned from this essential work. Reflexivity of the researcher will be described as it is of the utmost importance in this study and the quality of the work will also be addressed. Recommendations will be made on the implications for possible future research in this area.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion, participants will be able to
  • Describe the ‘Shattered Vase’ metaphor.
  • List some of the components of post traumatic growth.
  • Outline the benefits and challenges of providing peer support in emergency services, from the peer supporter perspective.