Titrating the Rig: How Paramedics Work in and on Their Ambulance

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Abstract

In this article, I take readers inside of an ambulance and explore how paramedics work in and on their “apparatus unit” to make it a workable fit. This taken-for-granted work is important because much is at stake in the back of the ambulance, particularly in relation to quality of care and safety. I draw on data from an institutional ethnography into the socially organized work and work settings of paramedics, which included more than 200 hr of observations and more than 100 interviews with paramedics. The findings shed light on the situated work processes of paramedics as they orient and respond to their “apparatus unit” and enact quality and safety in practice. This article adds to the sociological literature on work and occupations as well as safety and quality in health care of an increasingly important group of health care and emergency services professional.

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