Death & Dying in the Fire Services: Insights from the Observation Week


Juan-Pablo Leiva Santos is a current participant of the European Palliative Care Academy and for his personal project he is designing a curriculum to support death issues for firemen in Spain. He is currently conducting research on the needs of firemen concerning death and dying in their jobs:


“…I found children in a crash car. They were dead. It became dreadful to me because I also have children. It is impossible not to feel it and more challenging to carry on when children are also victims. When I was back home, I pretended that all was going OK… but for some reason my wife knew it was not…”
42 y.o. Fireman


As part of his time with the EUPCA he conducted an Observaiton Week to gain further insight for his project. In this short report he tells us about his time at the University of Bradford in England:

The five days full time work-experience at the University of Bradford has now come to an end. Thanks to the European Palliative Care Academy (EUPCA), I had this unique opportunity to be mentored by Prof. Allan Kellehear at the University of Bradford. I had the opportunity and time to exclusively work on my personal project. I was focused on:

  • Performing a qualitative analysis data from focus group methodology used to understand needs and resources firemen have in Spain regarding death & dying.
  • Planning which journal to send the manuscript to.
  • Designing the curriculum after doing the thematic analysis.
  • Writing an abstract to send to the EAPC 2017 in Madrid.
  • Doing a wide literature search review on Health, Psycho, Social and Trade & Industry search engines.

The Observation Week and asking Professor Allan Kellehear to mentor me on this project at the University of Bradford has been one of the most worthwhile things I could ever do. Working in a subject area related to compassionate community was a fantastic experience full of learning in a wonderful human atmosphere. The Heaton Mount facilities at the University of Bradford, were essentially unique as a host. This inspiring place provided me a special kind of feeling of well-being which pushed me more to get inspired in my work. Following my Observation Week, the conclusion remains that there is a substantial need for education regarding death and dying issues for firemen. This shall be addressed in the further work on the project to establish a curriculum to fill this educational gap for firemen in Spain.


Learn more about Juan-Pablo’s project

Learn more about the personal project


Authors: Juan-Pablo Leiva Santos and Heather Graham