PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to investigate opportunities and challenges for multi-professional paramedic-firefighter units in small municipalities in Finland.Design/methodology/approachThe data were collected by means of four focus group interviews conducted with managers (N =12) and a questionnaire comprising open-ended questions for the personnel working in the units (n =73). Data from both sources were analyzed using inductive content analysis.FindingsThe empirical results suggest that the use of multi-professional units (MPUs) may be one means of providing a better standard of service in rural areas. However, the working practices and different professional backgrounds in MPUs are considered challenging by the personnel. Managers had a broader perspective; during the interviews they raised matters such as citizen characteristics, legal issues like varying working hours, and economic aspects. Both the personnel and the managers agreed on the strengths and weaknesses of the MPU model in principle.Practical implicationsThe results of this study may clarify the opportunities and challenges posed by MPUs in rural areas from the perspectives of personnel and managers.Originality/valueThe study provides novel information on MPUs comprising paramedics and firefighters, who function at the interface of emergency medical services and rescue services and who have new tasks in rural areas, including home healthcare support and accident prevention.
International Journal of Emergency Services – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 5, 2019
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