Emergency services put their backs into life-saving research

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firebrigadeRESEARCH involving the University of Limerick, ambulance services and firefighters in the city is underway to examine techniques used to rescue a trapped car crash victim, while minimising the potential for spinal injury.

The study is a collaborative project between researchers at UL’s Centre for Prehospital Research in its Graduate Entry Medical School, the Biomechanics Research Unit within its Physical Education and Sport Sciences Department and UCD’s Centre for Emergency Medical Science. It has already won the award for Best Scientific Presentation at a medical conference in Florida.

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Results from the pilot research project show that conventional extrication techniques used by emergency services across the globe may be improved for certain categories of patients. The evidence suggests that for certain groups of stable patients verbal extrication instructions provided by qualified paramedics may be more effective than utilising complicated extrication equipment and uncomfortable rescue hardware.

The research was conducted in collaboration with National Ambulance Service paramedics and Limerick Corporation fire-fighters. A rescue crew consisting of four firefighter first responders and two paramedics performed eight different extrication techniques and cervical spine movement was measured throughout using 12 infrared motion analysis cameras for biomechanical analysis.

The findings have been so compelling that a second phase of testing has now been funded by the Pre-hospital Emergency Care Council in Ireland and the European Falck Foundation with a view towards changing the current national and European extrication protocols.