More Funding, Education and Partnerships Needed, says Canadian National EMS Research Agenda

Canadian EMS research needs to attract more funding and be backed by better education and scholarship support according to the Canadian National Emergency Medical Services Research Agenda released on January 11, 2013.

Compiled by the Paramedic Chiefs of Canada (PCC) and the Paramedic Association of Canada (PAC), the Canadian National EMS Research Agenda identifies strengths, obstacles and opportunities for conducting and using research to improve Canadian EMS. The goal is to create evidence-based EMS management in Canada, ensuring that strategic and tactical decisions line up with reality.

“There were four themes that emerged: research education, research culture, research data and research partnerships,” says Doug Socha, chair of the PCC’s national research committee and Chief of Hastings-Quinte EMS in Ontario, Canada. “Nineteen recommendations centered on time opportunities and funding, education and mentorship, culture of research and collaboration, structure processes and outcomes, and finally future direction.”

“Our hope is that we strengthen the research culture within the Canadian EMS community and increase collaboration with our partners,” Socha explains. “Further, we hope that these recommendations will advance and align EMS within Canada.”

Beyond funding, education and partnerships, the Canadian National EMS Research Agenda calls for Canadian universities to support academic research into EMS and for EMS providers to support research too. Information about EMS research should be better disseminated to Canadian EMS providers, the agenda recommends, and a culture of active EMS research should be fostered. The agenda even calls for EMS system administrators to include research projects in their annual budgets, and for EMS data to be linked to hospitals and other institutions’ data sets.

The Canadian National EMS Reserach Agenda is the result of years of hard work. “This initiative was, in part, fulfillment of the EMS Chiefs of Canada White Paper, ‘The Future of EMS in Canada: Defining the New Road Ahead’,” says Socha. That paper stated that Canadian EMS, “did not currently possess evidence-based research and data collection capabilities that were required to systematically evaluate and provide guidance for the improvement of overall levels of care,” he continues. “The Canadian National EMS Research Agenda, through an evidenced-based model has now created a ‘roadmap’ to gather reliable data, promote research and education, and has fostered partnerships that I hope will ultimately promote a research culture to advance the paramedic profession.”

The Canadian National EMS Agenda was created by a PCC/PAC working group, which operated under the PCC National Research Committee that Socha chairs. “This highly skilled working group established a mixed-methods study design consisting of three phases:13 interviews with key EMS stakeholders, a 47 in-person round table session, and finally a 239 consensus survey,” Socha says. “The topics discussed related to barriers to Canadian EMS research, current strengths or potential opportunities, recommendations for the future, and finally suggested topics for future studies.”

Now that the Canadian National EMS Research Agenda has been released, the next step if for the PCC and PAC to work together to realize the agenda’s 19 recommendations. To achieve this, “we have a multi-pronged knowledge translation plan,” says Socha.

The first step is to get the agenda to EMS providers, professionals and organizations across Canada. “This way paramedic stakeholders can look at these recommendations and determine which are the most important for their setting and then strategize actions to effect change,” says Socha.

This will be followed by presentations at national conferences through key stakeholder groups.

The full Canadian National EMS Research Agenda can be found online at