February 7, 2012
By Audrey Fraizer
What it takes to meet your goals depends on getting what you’re after.
And for the Academy, the goal to continually improve public safety means establishing and promoting a research-based culture incorporating data and expertise from centers achieving high compliance levels in the use of protocol.
“We are gaining recognition as a research organization,” said Greg Scott, International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) operations research analyst, whose role encompasses the research process from proposal development to manuscript writing for publication.
“But to keep it going, we need the help our Accredited Centers of Excellence (ACEs) can provide, and that includes both data and outreach to other centers that might be interested.”
Scott works with Director of Bio-Informatics and Research Chris Olola, Ph.D., as part of the IAED Council of Research that includes Academics & Standards Associate and Research Council Chair Brett Patterson, IAED Research and Studies Officer Tracey Barron, and, of course, the individual who started it all: Jeff Clawson, M.D.
While Dr. Clawson’s founding principles included research for the advancement of emergency medical dispatch, the slant has shifted slightly over the past three decades to a more global perspective.
The logic almost goes without explanation.
Since medical protocol was introduced to the world in 1979, the number of centers adopting the current protocol systems—medical, police, and fire—has ballooned to more than 3,000 centers internationally. Added to that is the Academy’s ability to collect and analyze data from a distance through advancing computer technology and software, such as ProQA, AQUA, and PSiam (nurse triage system).
The factors combined have landed 10 IAED-conducted research articles in several respected peer-reviewed and non-refereed medical journals, including Circulation, Emergency Medical Journal (EMJ), Resuscitation, Prehospital Emergency Care (PEC), Prehospital and Disaster Medicine (PDM), STROKE, and the NAED’s Journal of Emergency Dispatch.
Additionally, three manuscripts have been submitted to and are currently under review by PDM, Circulation, and PEC journals. Several more studies and papers are in various stages of the research process—13 ongoing and 15 pending studies awaiting resource allocations.
But what the research team has achieved is just the beginning of what they plan to accomplish, Scott said.
“Our ultimate goal in any research is to test, validate, and improve the protocol,” he said. “We do that through scientific evidence-based processes that prove or disprove pre-defined hypotheses.”
Another aim is to investigate new dispatch methodologies, technologies, and techniques, and to share dispatch experiences.
In other words, the Academy is intent on extending its research breadth—looking at components of all three protocol systems—and needs more data to do so. It wants to increase the pool of medical, fire, and police resources. That means increasing the number of collaborators.
The ideal combination includes centers using protocol at high compliance levels, field response units associated with the specific centers, and the outcomes of response. In the case of medical protocol, the Academy is interested in the patient data from receiving hospitals. For police, it could mean comparing Pre-Arrival Instructions to apprehension.
As Dr. Olola explained, a center’s commitment to assist the Academy doesn’t take the equivalent of a dedicated research employee.
“If there is an idea of the subject a center wants us to research, or if there is data to send us, give us a call,” Dr. Olola said. “We also want the centers directly involved and most likely that would be a minimal time commitment depending on the study.”
Prior to the launch of any study, however, council members must gain the approval of the IAED Institutional Review Board (IRB), which was registered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP), in 2007.
The IRB, chaired by Jerry Overton, operates autonomously from the Academy. The board’s approval depends on compliance to Academy goals and the ethics of scientific research. The process from board approval to submitting the paper for publication can, in general, take from six to eight months.
Dr. Olola said working together—the Academy, IRB, and ACEs—promotes more effective and economical studies and fosters faster publication of research manuscripts.
“The whole process will enable effective protocol evaluation, enhancement, and evolution,” he said. “And with an ultimate goal of improving public safety and public health.”