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Informing our ambulance service Information networks and evaluation tools to help the National Ambulance Service

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) has been to the forefront of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The service innovated and adapted to provide new services and maintain existing services. Change has been so rapid that there’s an immediate need for high quality information and also a need to learn from and share with other international ambulance services.

Siobhan Masterson, Discipline of General Practice, will lead a new project to provide information networks and evaluation tools that will help the National Ambulance Service (NAS).

According to Masterson, “Unfortunately, this may not be our last pandemic, so evidence-based ways to plan for the future are essential.”

As directed in Ireland’s National Action Plan, NAS have significantly expanded their prehospital services. Additionally, most other health services rely on NAS’s capacity to assess, transport and/or treat COVID-19 patients.

“An evaluation method for COVID-19 imposed change is needed so planning for subsequent waves or pandemics is built on evidence, and to identify innovative practice for mainstreaming into routine service provision,” says Siobhan Masterson.

This research aims to provide the information networks and evaluation tools that will help NAS meet these requirements.

The project will look at existing/ongoing work, producing ambulance-specific research and information updates for NAS.

Secondly, an international network of senior ambulance and research personnel will be established ('AMBULANCE+COVID19’ network) and a short-survey instrument, the Emergency Medical Services Five Question Survey (EMS-5QS), will be developed.

The EMS-5QS will enable AMBULANCE+COVID19 participants to nominate a topic for which they would like to hear about the experience and practice of other ambulance services. Multiple surveys covering a range of topics will run over the course of the research.

Finally, an evaluation framework will be developed to enable NAS determine innovations: (1) for reactivation in a subsequent wave or new pandemic; (2) to be sustained as part of routine service.

The framework will be developed with the collaboration of NAS and the HSE Quality Improvement Division.

“We are absolutely delighted to be one of the NUI Galway teams that have been successful in the COVID-19 rapid response call. The Research Team includes expertise from academia, the National Ambulance Service and the National Public Health Emergency Team. Ability to mobilise resources quickly and utilise ready-made international networks will ensure a successful project that can inform future information sharing methodologies and pandemic planning for ambulance services internationally.” added Masterson.

The project is funded by Ireland's national COVID-19 Rapid Response Research and Innovation funding, via the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council. #CovidResearchIreland

About the PI

Siobhán started her career in 1995, working as a Community Dietitian in County Donegal. She then joined the HSE Department of Public Health Medicine as a Research Officer, working on diabetes related projects including a diabetes information system and the diabetic retinopathy screening service for North West Ireland.

She has worked with the Discipline of General Practice since 2007, originally as the Manager of the National Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Register until she commenced her HRB fellowship in 2015.

In January 2017, Siobhán took up a half-time role with the HSE National Ambulance Service as Project Manager for the National OHCA Strategy.

Since January 2019, she has had an 80% role as National Ambulance Service Lead for Clinical Strategy and Evaluation and spends 20% of her time as NUI Galway Principal Investigator for a HRB Applied Partnership Award for Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and community first response.