Tracey Barron

Academic Research

By Tracey Barron

The NAVIGATOR conference offers the perfect forum to discuss ways we can further stimulate research into the emergency dispatch profession and practice.

Together, given the time and space to concentrate on the science of dispatch, we can prioritize subjects that individuals from different parts of the world might not recognize—the forest from the trees analogy. We see what’s there in front of us—the pieces—and that can change depending on where you stand.

We took a step last year by introducing the Annals of Emergency Dispatch and Response (AEDR). Readers have responded positively to the aim and content, especially since AEDR provides a venue for research not only into EMS response but, also, fire and police emergency response, including Emergency Communication Nurse System (ECNS) response.

In fact, AEDR is the only peer-reviewed journal that focuses on emergency medical, fire, and police dispatching and associated activities. We are proud of the foresight to open serious research into the dispatch profession and practice.

The reality, however, is that despite the insight, there is a lot to be done to prepare a path for others to follow. As a start, Isabel Gardett, Ph.D, associate director of research and academics/AEDR editor-in-chief, led a literature review team to identify gaps in research and potentially fruitful extensions of current lines of study.

The review, which used dispatch-related terms to search for papers in various research databases, identified a total of 149 papers (114 original research and 35 seminal concept papers). As previously mentioned in this column (Jan/Feb 2014), four issues continue to dominate the studies: dispatch as first point of care, standardization of the dispatching process, resource allocation, and best practices for dispatching.

The gaps include a lack of consistent metrics, the near-nonexistent research into fire and police emergency dispatching, and an overall lack of studies in many areas closely related to dispatch and its relationship to EMS in general.

A next step is scheduled at NAVIGATOR in the form of a 2 hour and 15 minute Research Forum to discuss our latest projects: stress in the dispatch workplace, challenges with bariatric patients in dispatch, geospatial techniques in dispatch research, and distribution of the most frequently used protocols in centers offering the ECNS. We will also discuss topics we’re considering for future study and the overall goal of our work. A session later in the conference is open to discuss our work and findings from the previous year.

We want our audience to participate.

We want to hear about the projects you want to pursue, explore ways to fill in the gaps identified, and develop collaborative dispatch research relationships.

We want to outline the design and construction of studies, taking into consideration the added layers of complexity due to an environment that is always changing.

We want to add your name to the Academy’s professional roster in the anticipation of blending expertise to complement the goals of ongoing and future research studies.

Ultimately, as a research powerhouse, the Academy’s goal is to conduct collaborative cutting-edge investigations that lead to improvement in pre-arrival care and the development of new knowledge in the emergency medicine sciences.

In the future, a good place to start your research will be the AEDR registry—currently under construction. It will represent an online review of literature—a repository for pertinent information on completed and ongoing research in the field of police, fire, and medical emergency dispatch, emergency nurse triage dispatch, and public health and public safety telecommunication.

By submitting your research using the template provided, the registry will inform of potential collaborations, disseminate your work, and reduce duplication. Rather than starting from scratch, investigators will have a source list to build upon the published and/or ongoing discoveries of others.

The creation of the dispatch-centric research journal was truly only the beginning.

The AEDR opened the academic, peer-reviewed bottleneck when it comes to turning the Academy into a dispatch-science hub of truly international rank. Now, together, we can produce studies that further edify the dispatch world, building upon the resilience of the protocol system introduced more than 35 years ago.

Mark your calendars for NAVIGATOR and be part of the discussion. We look forward to your contributions.

Chris Olola, Ph.D, the Academy’s director of biomedical informatics and research, will moderate the Research Forum, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, May 1. The four 30-minute sessions, each presented by a different speaker, will allow space in between for questions and answers. A second session—IAED Research—where the Academy’s research over the last year will be presented in detail will take place the following day, Friday, May 2, at 10:30 a.m.