Prehospital Research Workshop

Last week, I attended a three-day research workshop hosted by ESO Solutions and the Prehospital Care Research Forum (PCRF). The goal of this workshop was to introduce novice researchers to the research process with practical projects. Overall, it was an astounding success and one of the best workshops I’ve ever attended.

On Tuesday afternoon, we went through introductions and met the faculty. The eight participants were all EMS folks in similar roles to me—doing data analysis, clinical quality management, with some day-to-day operational responsibilities mixed in. There was a broad range of research experience but it quickly became evident that knowledge of statistics or the mechanics of writing a manuscript were not as important. What truly mattered was a passion for paramedicine and a skeptical, inquisitive mind.

The eight faculty members for the workshop included David Page (director of the PCRF, based at UCLA, and member of the JEMS editorial board), David Wampler (a PhD paramedic at UTHSCSA and part of the San Antonio FD Office of the Medical Director), Remle Crowe (a nearly-PhD paramedic and the NREMT Research Fellow), Lawrence Brown (professor at Dell Medical School and well-recognized EMS research author), Henry Wang (physician and professor at UT in Houston and the researcher behind some of the biggest airway, cardiac arrest, and sepsis studies in recent years), Scott Bourne (PhD RN with a huge impact in EMS quality and research work), and Brett Myers (former physician leader at Wake County EMS and now the Chief Medical Officer at ESO Solutions). Getting to have the close input and mentoring of these experienced researchers was truly priceless.

After introductions, we had a short lecture from David Page on the research process—going from asking a question to reporting an abstract, poster, or paper. And then we dove into the actual work! David led a brainstorming session where we filled a whiteboard with research ideas, then picked our favorites. This led to four groups of two each focused on four interesting research questions, with a faculty member assigned to each group. After refining our research question, each group presented our project to the workshop as a whole and we spent time critiquing and clarifying how we would approach research.

Wednesday, we began by doing literature review and developing our data collection request. For me, this was a high-value part of the workshop. Our faculty mentors provided a lot of insight into how to refine a research question into a testable hypothesis and how to structure your data to get usable results on the other end of collection and analysis. This part of the research process is often not appreciated. For our groups, we had five million deidentified EMS records to draw from, but needed a clear definition of how we would test our hypotheses in order to create a specific list of what we needed collected and analyzed.

As we began getting our data, each group continued to further write abstracts and do initial analysis. We concluded Wednesday with a group dinner.

Thursday morning, we finished examining our data and assembling draft abstracts and presentations. At 10:30 am, after rushing in with last-minute edits, we presented our research projects and findings for an audience of our peers and of staff from ESO Solutions. 
Our abstracts are still being refined and will be submitted for publication in the coming weeks and months. But the preliminary presentations from all four groups were exciting and showed us how we could do real research and find useful, important results. This highlighted one of the big takeaways of this workshop for me. Typically, these sorts of workshops do some kind of “toy” project where you apply concepts and principles but don’t actually create something real and valuable. This workshop was different—we did real research, investigated timely and relevant questions for EMS practice, and produced significant results that can contribute to the overall body of knowledge.

The other tremendous takeaway from this workshop was the networking opportunities. I felt like I was in a room full of “my people”—folks who were passionate about prehospital medical practice, quality improvement, research, and leveraging data to improve the care we deliver to our communities. There were a lot of offline conversations with other participants and faculty that gave me ideas and solutions to take back to my job and improve my organization.

Overall, a tremendous thank you to ESO Solutions, PCRF, and the faculty for putting on an incredible workshop. I look forward to supporting future workshops and seeing the research that comes out of these partnerships!