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NHMRC Partnership grant success Posted: 26 May 2014

Title: Improving ambulance dispatch to time-critical emergencies.
A NHMRC Partnership project between Curtin University and St John Ambulance WA

Professor Judith Finn (PRECRU, Curtin University) will lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers to work together with St John Ambulance WA to improve the accuracy of the dispatch of ambulances.

The project – to commence in July 2014 – has received three years of funding under the highly competitive NHMRC Partnership Projects initiative – see

Chief Investigators (CIs):

CIA: Prof Judith Finn Curtin University / St John Ambulance WA / Monash University
CIB: Prof Ian Jacobs Curtin University / St John Ambulance WA
CIC: Prof Daniel Fatovich Royal Perth Hospital / The University of Western Australia
CID: A/Prof Karen Smith Ambulance Victoria / Monash University
CIE: Dr Teresa Williams Curtin University / St John Ambulance WA
CIF: Dr Delia Hendrie Curtin University
CIG: A/Prof Kay O’Halloran Curtin University
CIH: Professor Peter Cameron Monash University

Associate Investigators:

Mr Tony Ahern St John Ambulance WA
Mr Deon Brink St John Ambulance WA
Prof Phillip Della Curtin University
Dr Madoka Inoue Curtin University
Mr Iain Langridge St John Ambulance WA
Mr Craig McKemmish St John Ambulance WA
Mr Austin Whiteside St John Ambulance WA

Consumer Representative:
Dr Anne Atkinson

Project synopsis:
The optimal management of critically ill patients is a continuum of care through the healthcare system; seamlessly extending from the prehospital and emergency department phases to the Intensive Care Unit and rehabilitation services.  The prehospital management of critically ill patients begins with the emergency ‘000’ phone call for an ambulance.  This is where the first suspicion of a time-critical emergency presents and it is on the basis of this ‘first link in the chain of survival’ that ambulance dispatch priority is determined.  However, as asserted at the recent inaugural European Emergency Medical Dispatch conference, “there is a paucity of dispatch research in the published medical literature…and the optimum method of handling calls and dispatching emergency medical resources remains largely unknown”.

This partnership project brings together an interdisciplinary team to work collaboratively with St John Ambulance Service in Western Australia to investigate strategies to improve the accuracy of emergency medical dispatch.  All ambulance services in Australia (except ACT) (and many internationally) use the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS).  Hence our study findings will be of relevance to emergency medical systems throughout the world.
We will use quantitative and qualitative methods, drawing on unique data sources not readily accessible in any other jurisdictions in Australia, to address questions such as:

  1. How accurately does the MPDS emergency dispatch system identify time-critical emergency conditions?
  2. What has been the experience of the end-users of MPDS?
  3. What characteristics of the communication between call taker / caller can lead to inappropriate dispatch priority?
  4. What are the EMS demand management implications of over-triage of calls?
  5. What are the economic and service implications of inappropriate triage of calls?

Further information can be obtained from:
Professor Judith Finn

Judith Finn contributes to ILCOR meeting on international recommendations on resuscitation Posted: 26 May 2014

In February 2015, Judith Finn joined 200 delegates in Dallas, Texas, to develop draft international recommendations on cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care, as part of the International Liaison Committee On Resuscitation (ILCOR).

The outcomes of this meeting will contribute to the Consensus on Science with Treatment Recommendations (CoSTR), scheduled for online publication in the medical journals Circulation and Resuscitation on October 15, 2015.

PRECRU research appears in 2014 highlights of the journal Resuscitation Posted: 26 May 2014

The international journal, Resuscitation, has included two papers by PRECRU researchers in its 2014 list of highlights.

Among Resuscitation’s favourite papers for 2014 were Janet Bray’s paper on trends in the incidence of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Perth.  This study found a statistically significant reduction in the age-and-sex-standardised incidence of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Perth over the years 1997-2010.  This paper was co-authored by PRECRU’s Judith Finn and Ian Jacobs.

Also listed was Shelley Kirkbright’s paper on the use of audiovisual feedback devices by paramedics during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).  This study found that while feedback technology allows CPR providers to improve performance, a systematic review found no consistent evidence that this translates into improved patient outcomes.  This paper was co-authored by PRECRU’s Judith Finn, Hideo Tohira and Ian Jacobs.

More details [go to]