Communicative Contingencies in Handling Emergency Medical Calls - Srikant Sarangi

Communicative Contingencies in Handling Emergency Medical Calls - Srikant Sarangi

Case Study 1: Patient as Caller

Communicative Contingencies in Handling Emergency Medical Calls - Srikant Sarangi

Srikant Sarangi [+-]
Aalborg University
Srikant Sarangi is Professor in Language and Communication and Director of the Health Communication Research Centre at Cardiff University, Wales, UK ( He is also Professor in Language and Communication at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway; Honorary Professor at the Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, Denmark; and Honorary Professor at the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, The University of Hong Kong. His research interests are in discourse analysis and applied linguistics; language and identity in public life and institutional/professional communication studies (e.g., healthcare, social welfare, bureaucracy, education etc.). He has held several project grants (Funding bodies include The Wellcome Trust, The Leverhulme Trust, ESRC) to study various aspects of health communication, e.g., genetic counselling, HIV/AIDS and telemedicine. The other areas of healthcare research include communication in primary care, palliative care, with particular reference to assessment of consulting and communication skills. He is author and editor of 12 books, 5 journal special issues and has published nearly 200 journal articles and book chapters. He is the founding editor of Communication & Medicine, editor of TEXT & TALK: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse and Communication Studies (formerly TEXT) as well as co-editor (with C. N. Candlin) of Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice. He is also general editor (with C. N. Candlin) of three book series[es]: Studies in Applied Linguistics; Studies in Language and Communication; and Studies in Communication in Organisations and Professions. He serves as an editorial board member for other journals and book series[es], and as a consulting advisor at many national and international levels. His involvement in professional societies include membership of the Executive Committee of the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL, 1997-2002) and Member-at-Large of the Executive Board of the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA, 1999-2002). He is also the founder of the annual interdisciplinary conference series, Communication, Medicine and Ethics (COMET) and Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice (ALAPP). Over the last ten years, he has held visiting academic attachments in many parts of the world.


Calls to Emergency Medical Services – also known as ambulance services or paramedic services – are primarily a telephone-mediated communicative activity, where detailed critical information is exchanged through an elaborate series of questions and answers. Although, on the surface, it may seem a routine information exchange activity, the framing of questions and how they are responded to and followed up in the absence of any visible cues are filled with ‘communicative contingencies’, requiring ‘fast thinking’ professional judgement. The core focus of this study is to unpack these nuanced communicative contingencies underpinning decision-making from a language/interaction perspective. In adopting the activity-type analytical framework to identify the various linguistic and interactional features of telephone-mediated emergency medical calls and their rhetorical potential, the book explores how the different elicited and volunteered information trajectories vis-à-vis instruction and advice formats constitute the basis of risk assessments and decisions regarding dispatch of help. Drawing on a comprehensive database of telephone calls about breathlessness (comprising 400 call transcripts from two regions in Denmark), the book highlights ‘caller type’ as a significant variable in the communication process. In essence, during the emergency medical calls, the call taker handles not only ‘factual’ information in an algorithmic, scripted manner against established criteria but also the caller type as part of the emergent communicative contingencies. In addition to delineating the general interaction trajectories across the dataset, of the six caller types identified, the analysis focuses on three types – patient, spouse/partner and professional carer – and each type receives case-study length treatment. The key findings lead to the formulation of a set of practical guidelines for training of professional practitioners and for raising awareness among caller types.

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Sarangi, Srikant. Case Study 1: Patient as Caller. Communicative Contingencies in Handling Emergency Medical Calls. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Sep 2026. ISBN 9780000000000. Date accessed: 21 Jul 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.41350. Sep 2026

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