The spread of COVID-19 has challenged the paramedic community’s ability to provide health care, maintain personal safety, and implement evidence informed decisions and programs. The study objective was to examine the published literature related to paramedicine and pandemics.
A rapid review of research derived from an existing broad database of literature generated between 2006 and 2019 was used. We conducted a targeted secondary search of this database to identify studies of pandemics in paramedicine contexts and included three levels of screening. We used content analysis to identify broad themes and subthemes, and provide summaries and descriptions of each.
From 54,638 citations, our search identified 24 citations representing eight countries. The most common method of enquiry was cross-sectional survey (n=10). Five broad themes (and 15 subthemes) were identified: general planning and preparedness (impact to paramedic service operations, roles and responsibilities, communication centre preparedness, paramedic service preparedness, training); workforce (availability of personal protective equipment, safety of family, perception of risk, trust in the organisation); ethics (duty, resource allocation); (triage (needless exposure to infection, transmission of disease); and vaccination (vaccination information, organisational readiness).
The evidence base describes the importance of pandemic planning and preparedness for emergency medical services and integrating these activities into broader public health and healthcare system plans. Although this rapid review provides a foundation to support response plans and research, it is considered ‘just in time’ for the evolving pandemic, and further work understanding research in paramedicine and pandemics is recommended.
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