Rhetorical Work in Emergency Medical Services: Communicating in the Unpredictable Workplace, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rhetorical Work in Emergency Medical Services

Communicating in the Unpredictable Workplace, 1st Edition

By Elizabeth L. Angeli


204 pages

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Rhetorical Work in Emergency Medical Services: Communicating in the Unpredictable Workplace details how communicators harness the power of rhetoric to make decisions and communicate in unpredictable contexts. Grounded in a 16-month study in the emergency medical services (EMS) workplace, this text contributes to our theoretical, methodological, and practical understandings of the situation-specific processes that communicators and researchers engage in to respond to the urgencies and constraints of high-stakes workplaces. This book presents these intricate processes and skills—learned and innate—that workplace communicators use to accomplish goal-directed activity, collaborate with other communicators, and complete and teach workplace writing.


"In this engaging, personal story, Elizabeth Angeli tells how she was inducted into and studied the communications of the unpredictable world of emergency medical services. Readers get to 'ride along' as Angeli develops, modifies and implements her research design for an unusual activity with shifting constraints."

-Clay Spinuzzi, Professor, Rhetoric and Writing, University of Texas at Austin

"I didn’t learn how to write good reports. I learned how to save lives." The majority of EMS training focuses on patient care skills. Yet, they spend a great deal of their working life doing paperwork. So, how do they learn the underlying rhetorical skills to succeed as workplace writers? Dr. Angeli provides an answer by offering important insights for those of us who want to understand better rhetoric’s power to persuade in unpredictable environments as well as practical guidance for EMS providers who must not only save lives but also document their care."

-Roger Munger, Professor, English, Boise State University

"The book is an engaging and methodologically innovative study that give serious consideration to the pervasive and often invisible work of communication in professional settings. Angeli's work will undoubtedly be useful to anyone studying the transmedia properties of professional communication in unpredictable workplaces."

-Jason Swarts, Professor, English, North Carolina State University

"This book examines the complicated workplace communication and rhetorical work taking place in unpredictable contexts such as emergency medical services. It provides not only thick description and in-depth analysis of training and daily work in EMS but also detailed, pragmatic pedagogical applications to prepare future communicators for challenging rhetorical in unpredictable workplaces. Highly recommended for rhetoricians of medical rhetoric, professional and technical communicators, writing instructors, and EMS educators and practitioners."

-Huiling Ding, North Carolina State University, USA

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables



List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1: The Scene Size-up

Chapter 2: Managing the Unpredictable Workplace through Rhetorical Work

Chapter 3: A Rhetorical History of a Developing Field

Chapter 4: Studying the Unpredictable Workplace

Chapter 5: Using Multisensory Invention in the Unpredictable Workplace

Chapter 6: Integrating Distributed Cognition, Memory, and Writing into the Unpredictable Workplace

Chapter 7: Preparing Communicators for Unpredictable Workplaces


Bibliography of Secondary Research


About the Author

Elizabeth L. Angeli is an assistant professor in Marquette University’s English Department, where she specializes in technical communication and the rhetoric of health and medicine. Her research has been published in journals such as Written Communication, Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, and Communication Design Quarterly. She received her PhD in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University and has held a National Registry Emergency Medical Technician-Basic certification.

About the Series

ATTW Series in Technical and Professional Communication

The ATTW Series in Technical and Professional Communication publishes interesting and useful work in a wide range of topics related to technical and professional communication (TPC), including but not limited to the following: assessment of TPC programs, content management systems, globalization of TPC, human-computer interaction, intercultural communication, health-care and medical communication, pedagogy of TPC, publication management, risk and crisis communication, service learning in TPC, technical and professional editing, translation of TPC, usability/user-experience and accessibility studies, visual communication, and web design and development.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies