Trading Cards and Common Ground: Paramedic Story-telling and Narrative Purpose




Morgan, Monica

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University of Guelph


Paramedics are storytellers. The profession lends itself to acts of narration, with every service call becoming woven into a tale about odds overcome, and laced with humorous rhetoric. In this thesis, I argue that paramedics’ stories do more than fill the air with conversation to pass the time. They serve a distinct purpose within the professional culture, allowing for its members to navigate the harshest realities of their work environment. By applying an ethnography of communication framework I examine the uses of paramedic narratives while also combating the insider bias of being a paramedic myself. In using a combination of participant observation and semi-structured interviews, I explore the diverse purposes of paramedic narratives, which include educating, building a sense of belonging, validating decisions, and compartmentalizing trauma.



paramedic, story-telling, narrative, health care, PTSD, EMS, first responder