About the Project

This project seeks to understand the impact of COVID-19 on first responders by identifying the ways in which public health emergencies impact the nature of work and responsibilities for first responders as well as identify ways to mitigate negative psychosocial impacts.

There is relatively little scholarly attention paid to the impact of public health emergencies on first responders and their work, let alone when diverse emergencies collide and present different (and potentially even conflicting) work-related demands.

Our research focuses on these impacts, specifically:

  1. The impact of policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic and co-occurring emergencies (e.g., opioid epidemic) on first responders, including work-related stress, burnout, role abandonment, and substance use and abuse;
  2. Changes in first responders’ perceived and actual work and responsibilities as a result of responding to the pandemic and colliding emergencies; and,
  3. How first responder organizations can help mitigate the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and co-occurring emergencies on first responders.

Research Method: We are using a mixed-method research design with the quantitative component including a survey administered to frontline responders. The qualitative component includes a review of publicly available policy documents (e.g., COVID-19 policies) as well as in-depth qualitative interviews and PhotoVoice.

We believe this research has the potential to inform how first response agencies can mitigate potential adverse effects on their workers, build workforce resilience in the short- and long-term, and more effectively respond to both opioid abuse and other future health epidemics.