Friday, 27 April 2018

Mollie Holman medallist: Dr Kylie Dyson

We’re thrilled to announce that our School has produced another Mollie Holman Medal winner – Dr Kylie Dyson. The medal is awarded to those students judged to have presented the best doctoral thesis each year. 

Kylie completed her PhD (Paramedic exposure to cardiac arrest and patient survival: does practice make perfect?) with the Aus-ROC Centre of Research Excellence, part of our Pre-hospital, Emergency and Trauma group. Her supervisors were Prof Judith Finn, Dr Janet Bray, Dr Lahn Straney, Prof Stephen Bernard and Prof Karen Smith.

As a working paramedic for Ambulance Victoria, Kylie noticed that she wasn’t attending as many cardiac arrest call-outs as she expected. Increasingly worried that her skills were getting rusty, she wondered if the low number of cases was affecting her performance and impacting patient outcomes.

Not content to sit around speculating, Kylie researched how ambulance services in Australia and New Zealand maintain employee competency in this domain, and found refresher training levels to be low. She then reviewed data in the Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry to get a sense of the average number of cardiac arrest call-outs paramedics treated annually.  The result was a surprising 1.4 cardiac arrests per paramedic each year. 

Kylie found that patients treated by paramedics with the highest previous exposure to cardiac arrest were 50% more likely to survive. This association may be the result of improved performance, but because measuring performance during cardiac arrest treatment is difficult, she examined the effect of exposure on performance for a single complex resuscitation procedure, endotracheal intubation. Again, exposure was incredibly low, with each intensive care paramedic performing on average three intubations per year. And again, there was a clear association between exposure and performance. Thus, she found an association between exposure, performance, and ultimately, patient survival.

With around 6,000 Victorians suffering a cardiac arrest each year and less than 10% surviving, the implications of Kylie’s research are massive. Her research has identified a gap in training that could one day lead to improved patient outcomes.

Dr Dyson is now the Senior Research Fellow at the Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry. She says,

“I learnt so much through my PhD at SPHPM and I would like to thank everyone to helped me along the journey. I’m honoured to win this award and look forward to implementing the findings of my PhD at Ambulance Victoria.”