Say the Right Thing
Grief Support Institute EMS Death Notification and Grief Support Guidelines.
Breaking the News
• Delaying news is not helpful
• Review case and see who is present
•Physically join family. Introduce yourself.
“Mrs. Smith, we tried everything possible, I’m sorry to tell you this, but your husband has died.”
“Mr. Jones, this is hard to say, but the accident was too much for Sally, she has died.”
• Answer questions. May need to repeat.
• May need to go over what has occurred and what interventions have been tried.
Grief Support Skills
• Give time for reaction. Don’t try to change their feelings.Don’t try to fix grief.
• Help them with physical comfort—sit, water
“...I don’t know the answer to that.”
“You may not remember all I’ve said. I will be available later.”
“That’s OK, this is a difficult time for you...”
• Ask if there is a relative, friend, neighbor you could call for them.
• Be supportive to children and teenagers. They often cover-up emotions.
• After initial reaction, begin to use brochure.
Describe What Happens Next
• Help the family by keeping them informed.
• In most cases the Medical Examiner will be notified. Emergency Personnel will do this.
• They may be asked to tell doctor’s name, patient history, medications and/or what happened before EMS personnel arrived.
• When family ready, they choose and contact a mortuary related service.
• Give family Mortuary Brochure.
• Mortuary will arrange to come to the scene
• EMS remove/dispose medical items.
• Body may be left alone with family if they prefer. Ask how family feels about this.
Medical Examiner’s Case
• Understand this is difficult for the family.
• Cause of death must be investigated
• Explain scene preservation to family
• EMS Personnel must follow M.E. protocols.
• Police usually stay if a M.E.’s case.
• Mortuary will pick up at the M.E.’s office.
Knowing when to leave
• It is not helpful to stay longer than needed.
• Tell family, “It is just about time for me to go. Is there anything else I can do?”
• Leave brochures, business card.
• Say goodbye and offer your condolences
• After you leave, use stress reduction techniquestalk, write, exercise
Say the Right Thing
Do the Right Thing
The EMS Grief STEP Programs Standard Program covers all the essential elements of a successful training program. It has been designed for grief support policy implementation in EMS Districts and related agencies. Participants for this program include paramedics, supervisory staff, firefighters, law enforcement and support service professionals whose responsibilities may include: 1) Determining death in the field; 2) Making decisions to not transport to the ED; 3) Providing death notification; and 4) Immediately interacting with the survivors following a death.
This is a one day initial training, phone support for three to five months and a one day follow up training after three to five months experience. There are many training considerations and options to this arrangement depending on your EMS system and setting.
Training materials include: Grief Support Manuals, Resources Guides, Pocket Guides, and customized support/referral brochures or pamphlets to leave with bereaved.
The Standard Program is a comprehensive program that validates the profound impact death and dying has on even the most seasoned emergency service professional. (Studies of EMS Personnel have shown that death notification and grief support are a primary concern and stressor for the EMS professional and yet among the most poorly addressed concerns by administration/management and training/educational systems.)
The Standard Program supports the concept that employee and customer/community relationships are a critical aspect of EMS practice.
This Standard Program has built in Quality Improvement and stress management programs.
This is a one time training investment. Once grief support has become an operational procedure, only Train the Trainer programs and support materials are needed to maintain this program.
Requires a substantial commitment from administration and management.
Cost: $1500. per day per instructor plus expenses and materials. No minimum class size when sponsored by an agency.
Call for quote and available dates.
Copyright 1998 Grief STEPTM Programs
Grief Support Institute
Death, Dying and Grief Support Topics Available for Presentation
On-site EMS Grief STEP TopicsWorkplace issues
Body, Funeral & CoronerCritical Incidence in the ManagementWorkplace
Death Notification SkillsDealing with a co-worker’s
Initial Onset of GriefTragedy
Scene Management Death of a Co-Worker, Family
Using Referrals/BrochuresMember, or Friend
Grief in the Workplace
Accidental DeathGeneral Issues
AIDS DeathCultural Sensitivity
Disaster DeathDying - DNR,
Expected DeathFamily Expectations
SIDS DeathDeath & Dignity
Suicide DeathGrief Process
Grief Reactions - All age groups
Additional programs can be designed upon request.