Celebration of Innovation

Chris Olola

The halls were lined with row after row of intriguing research summations presented on posters and submitted from the finest researchers in prehospital care. This was a celebration of innovation and genius in a health profession considered a significant link in the history of health care.

The event was part of the annual National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) conference, which was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (Jan. 21–26). Educational sessions and research posters highlighted response safety, challenges unique to demographics and geography, and contemporary issues involving social media and credentialing. There were several papers on emergency dispatch.

The International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® (IAED) research team presented a summary explanation signifying the first release of data from the Academy’s metronome study. A metronome audio built into the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS®) ProQA® software signals the rescuer to do a chest compression at each click of the metered sound when providing CPR to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest.

The IAED research group conducted the study in 2016 at four sites in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, with each site characterizing a different demographic population (junior high, assisting living residential setting, community college, and university). Participants were randomly allocated to either of two groups: standard instructions given by EMDs over the phone (control group), and instructions complemented by the metronome audio over the phone (experimental group).

The results support related (non-IAED) studies: A metronome for dispatchers to direct bystanders in giving CPR is effective in helping bystanders achieve the correct compression rate (see accompanying poster entered in the competition).

The popular research poster exhibit serves several purposes, not least of which is the venue to share innovation, spark discussion, and encourage networking among the many disciplines under the EMS umbrella. The contest has also grown beyond expectation, resulting in daily rounds to assemble, view, and take down posters in preparation for the next scheduled group. Each day, conference goers paraded along the poster route, stopping to hear a synopsis of the information organized according to a standard research paper but condensed to fit in a smaller space (a board).

Standing in front of a research poster to explain the research and answer questions is little different from standing in front of a classroom audience, at least in terms of potential unease. Both can be daunting. You might ask yourself: Is data presented logically? What about visual appeal? Did we catch spelling and grammatical errors, typos, and graphic blemishes? Did we prepare an adequate summary? Will our research generate discussion and questions? Will we leave our audience a take home message, perhaps stimulating further research? Time is a huge concern, with NAEMSP allowing researchers five minutes to explain their research, leaving two minutes to field comments or questions from the people assembled at your display.

As it turned out, our concerns went unwarranted. Our research was well-received, and we will carefully consider the recommendations to improve (metronome) protocol. We are confident going forward to the next step: writing a paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. We are also planning future research posters for conferences addressing public safety issues that benefit from the use of sound, time-tested, and internationally recognized protocol systems.

The research poster competition complements the Academy’s goal to evaluate dispatch protocols through an evidence-based process. It’s a stage allowing the Academy to showcase the importance of emergency dispatch to public safety and the power of protocol. We returned to our offices knowing our research lends to the vital link of understanding where we came from and where we go from here.

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