New trauma care grants

Photo: Dr Clinton Gibbs from Retrieval Services Queensland, and Neil Singleton from MAIC at the 2023 EMF Grants Award Ceremony.

20 March 2023

Improved pain relief for trauma patients and reducing unnecessary transfer of patients in rural and remote areas will be investigated under the latest round of grants funding from Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF).

Two research projects have been awarded grants in the Trauma Care in Regional, Rural and Remote Queensland Special Research Grants Program, funded by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) and delivered by EMF.

Both studies focus on improving emergency services and patient care.

Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) Advance Care Paramedic Stephanie Nixon will research barriers and facilitators of rural and regional ambulance patients receiving optimal pain relief on the way to hospital following traumatic injury and will also look to identify potential best practice solutions.

The Charleville-based researcher said with typically longer transport times in non-metropolitan areas it was critical to ensure pain relief protocols in rural and remote areas aligned with the needs of local patients.

“Inadequate pain relief has lasting negative physiological and psychological implications and decreases overall quality of life. We are interested to find out whether rural and remote trauma patients are at higher risk of this.

“By studying existing QAS data and speaking to paramedics across the state about their experiences and perceptions of current pain management, we’re looking to identify any differences in how pain is managed in different areas.

“Our goal is to ensure we optimise pain management for trauma patients in rural and remote areas by identifying barriers, facilitators and innovative solutions. We aim to ensure high-quality, patient-centred, locally relevant pain management for trauma patients throughout Queensland,” Ms Nixon said.

Photo: Stephanie Nixon from Queensland Ambulance Service, and Neil Singleton from MAIC at the 2023 EMF Grants Award Ceremony.

Retrieval Services Queensland Clinical Director of Research and Evaluation, Dr Clinton Gibbs, is leading a study on whether some rural and remote patients with minor Traumatic Brain Injuries (mTBI) from road accidents are being unnecessarily transported to major hospitals away from home for CT scans.

With a significant proportion of mTBI patients either returning normal CT scans or not receiving a scan at all, Dr Gibbs and his research team will explore the transfer of people with mTBI by road ambulance or aeromedical flight to understand the nature of their presentations and their outcomes following transfer.

“People with mTBI are transferred hours away from their home, their family and their support network to receive a CT scan. We believe a large proportion of these people may not need to be transferred, but the current paucity of evidence does not empower the healthcare professionals in rural and remote facilities to keep them there.

“We hope to identify those who may have “low-value” transfers and develop approaches to avoid future this occurring in the future.

“This will have immense personal and financial benefits to the people of rural and remote Queensland, as well as beneficial impacts on the state’s road ambulance and aeromedical network. Reducing transfers will also assist the ongoing access block issues continuing to plague Queensland’s Emergency Departments.” Dr Gibbs explained.

This is the second year grants in the Trauma Care in Regional, Rural and Remote Queensland program have been offered by EMF and MAIC, with MAIC Insurance Commissioner Neil Singleton highlighting the importance of having a dedicated stream of funding.

“Given Queensland’s vast geographic spread, road trauma patients in rural and remote areas are often needed to be transferred to metropolitan hospitals, which can delay or complicate their treatment and recovery.

“It is critical that emergency teams in these areas are equipped and empowered to explore improvements in local clinical care so patients can be treated close to home, reducing transport costs and above all – saving lives.

“MAIC is proud to be working with EMF in supporting these important clinician-led research projects to enhance clinician expertise and improve patient care and outcomes,” Mr Singleton said.

Round Three of the Trauma Care in Regional, Rural and Remote Queensland grants funding will open later in 2023. Find out more here.

EMF thanks the experts on the Advisory Panel who kindly volunteer their time to support this Special Research Grants Program.

Successful projects in Round 2 of the Trauma Care in Regional, Rural and Remote Queensland grants program:

Principal Investigator (PI)
Project Title
PI Institution
Amount awarded
Ms Stephanie Nixon REPRIEVE: Rural/Remote Emergency Pain Relief Investigation and Evaluation (Out-of-Hospital Pain Management in Rural and Remote Trauma Patients) Queensland Ambulance Service $35,600
Dr Clinton Gibbs Interhospital transfer of mTBI in rural and remote Queensland – can “low-value” transfers be avoided? Retrieval Services Queensland $27,170



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