Welcome to the SWASFT Research page

News, information, about us, contact

jigsaw pieces not made
Credit - Hans Peter-Gauster - Unsplash
ambulance in motion
“Research is the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions”
(Oxford English dictionary)

Undertaking high quality research helps us to know what works best for our patients and staff and helps to fill gaps in our knowledge. Through research we can be confident that what we are doing is in the best interests of our patients.

SWASFT has an active and successful Research and Audit department lead by Dr Sarah Black based in our Trust headquarters in Exeter. A team of Research Paramedics and research and audit personnel are key to SWASFT’s success in delivering and implementing research projects in partnership with a wide range of academic, healthcare and industry organisations. We have a wide-ranging research portfolio and experience across clinical, organisational, environmental and workforce studies.

How can I get involved?

You can get involved in lots of ways!

  • Sign up to help with any research when a study is advertised
  • Complete surveys shared by the Trust
  • Regularly read research and journal articles to keep up to date (Professor Greenhalgh’s ‘How to read a paper’ book can help you to understand how read research articles in a step-by-step way)
  • SWASFT staff now have access via the Discovery library website to: 500+ core clinical journals,1100+ textbooks, Practice guidelines, systematic reviews and multimedia resources, Pin boards and awareness updates for the latest news . You will need an NHS Open Athens password to access these resources – You can register for one of these here or download an information leaflet here. 
  • For the National Ambulance Service Steering Group (NARSG) – 2022 Prehospital Emergency Services Current Awareness Update – Issue 95, March-April 2022 – Click here
  • Undertake higher education research modules
  • Complete training in Good Clinical Practice (GCP) to help you understand the basics (click here for free GCP training)
  • Become a Research Paramedic and help lead research projects in SWASFT
Follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook group:
How can I start a research project with SWASFT?

All proposed research involving SWASFT staff, our patients or their data must be formally considered through our Trust Research approval process. This application process includes a feasibility assessment of the study and consideration of whether or not the research will be of benefit to the Trust.

We welcome opportunities for collaborative research with academic, commercial and third sector organisations, as well as with other NHS Trusts.

For student research projects, we accept applications from staff who have substantive contracts with our Trust and are undertaking research as part of an educational qualification and our R&D group will also consider proposals from undergraduate Student Paramedics who may wish to undertake a service evaluation to support their final award.

Student projects

The proposal forms below relate to all projects that are being carried out in fulfillment of an academic award, at undergraduate or postgraduate level, where Trust staff, patients, premises or equipment are involved.

Exceptions include: those studies that will involve more than one NHS organisation (multi-site), studies that require Research Ethics Service review, and studies that are trialing a medicinal product.

You also visit the intranet via this link Student Projects* page for further information including the full SOP. *Please note this link is to the internal intranet so will only open from a SWASFT device.

Non- research project proposal form
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Student project proposal form
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Patient and Public involvement

If you live in the South West of England and you have been a patient who has used SWASFT services, or a friend or relative or you are just interested in getting involved with SWASFT research, please consider the following:

  • Join SWASFT’s Patient and Public Involvement group

This group of patients and the public meet every other month with quarterly with SWASFT researchers (currently online). Group members are provided with an update of current research activity. You may be asked to read some research papers (a ‘Plain English’ summary is usually available), or to watch a presentation about a research project. Each member is given an opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions and will play an important role in helping researchers to develop, undertake, interpret findings and to share SWASFT research in a way that is relevant and understandable to all.

Please email us using the contact form below if you would like to join the SWASFT Patient and Public Involvement group.
  • Check this website regularly for information about research studies
  • Visit the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) webpage which provides more information about patient and public involvement with health research here
  • Support SWASFT research by participating in research studies where possible
  • Complete any relevant surveys that are shared
  • Follow the Research at SWASFT Twitter account

Jargon buster

Our Patient and Public involvement group have suggested that we include some jargon busting information. Although we are moving towards a culture where ‘plain English’ is used to minimise misunderstandings, healthcare employees can often slip into the habit of using anacronyms and jargon.

In response, NHS England have developed a useful jargon explanation page. If you ever come across something that you haven’t heard before, or you aren’t too sure of its meaning, please click here for NHS England’s ‘Understanding NHS jargon’ page. SWASFT has also developed a Jargon buster for ambulance related words here

Health Research Authority
National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)
Research Support Service (NIHR)
Integrated Research Application System (IRAS)
National Ambulance Research Steering Group
REACH: Research in Emergency care, Avon Collaborative Hub

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Research activity in SWASFT

EVADE study update March ’24 – Click here
Update Now AvailableClick here

CATNAPS: Staff interview participant information sheet – Click here

SPEEDY study FAQs – Click here 

SWASFT Research Team

Please drop any of the team an email (name – @swast) if you want to chat about research, they’d love to hear from you, or use the contact form above

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Adam Bedson

Research (& Specialist) Paramedic & NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow

I am a Lead Specialist Practitioner and Research Paramedic for South Western Ambulance Service and am also developing as a clinical academic. I have completed an NIHR Funded Master of Research (MRes) at the University of Southampton, a PG Cert in Healthcare Leadership, a PGDip in Advanced Practice at UWE and I am also an independent prescriber.

I am currently completing my PhD at the University of Southampton, researching the implementation of paramedic independent prescribing in emergency and urgent care settings. I also sit on the College of Paramedic’s Medicines and Prescribing Special Interest Group.

My research interests pertain to specialist and advanced paramedic roles and the introduction of paramedic independent prescribing.

Dr Sarah Black

Head of Research, Audit
& Improvement

I have worked for SWASFT since 2000, and am Vice Chair of the National Ambulance Research Steering Group.

I lead the R&D function at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, with responsibility for supporting both large scale NIHR projects in addition to own account and student studies. My team lead also all clinical audit and quality improvement activity in the organisation and manage the clinical information and records function.

We work closely with colleagues across the organisation and in academia and are passionate about building the evidence base, and using data to inform and improve the quality of pre hospital urgent and emergency care.

My academic background started with a BSc in Psychology, and I have Masters qualifications in Psychological Research Methods and Statistics and in Clinical Research. I was awarded my Doctorate from the University of Exeter in 2018.

I’m proud of the opportunities we have been able to offer our clinical staff to become engaged in research over the years, both by participating in a wide variety of studies and also in supporting people to develop their own research ideas and start their academic journey.

Do get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

Michala Cox

Lead Research

Michala started working for SWAST in 2006 and has been a Paramedic since 2010. She graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Urgent and Emergency care in 2018.

With special interests in both Trauma and Research, she is a PHTLS Instructor, engaging in courses twice a year to train staff in optimum trauma care, alongside keenly participating in numerous research programs with SWAST to advance pre-hospital emergency care for the benefit of patients and staff. She is particularly passionate about providing exceptional end of life care.

Michala joined the Research team in 2022 and splits her time equally between research and frontline shifts.

When not working you will most likely find her stomping the SW Coast path (her goal is to walk it all!) or reading, gardening and baking.

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Sasha Johnston

Senior Mental Health lead, Research Paramedic, NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow (DPhil) and NHSE AHP Clinical Fellow (Mental Health)

Sasha has worked for ambulance services in the UK and the Caribbean since 2002, holding several different roles including frontline EMT and lead Paramedic.

She has completed a PgCert in Advanced Practice and an NIHR funded Masters in Clinical Research. Her research focusses on ambulance staff mental health and wellbeing, with an emphasis on organisational support and cultural change.

She is currently undertaking a part-time DPhil with the University of Oxford. During the DPhil Sasha will explore the feasibility and acceptability of ambulance organisations providing a dedicated space at work for staff to reflect upon and discuss work-related impact and consider their own wellbeing needs. Sasha is married with two children and a happily tubby cat called Timmy.

Click here for Sasha’s research and publication history on the research information site ORCID ID.

Dr Kim Kirby

NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow/Lead Research Paramedic

I have been employed clinically in South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust since 2002, initially as an ambulance technician and then a paramedic prior to becoming a research paramedic in 2014.  I graduated with a BSc (hons) in Urgent and Emergency Care Practice and was then awarded funding through the HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Programme for non-medical healthcare professions to complete an MClinRes at Southampton University and subsequently a PhD at UWE.

I now work between UWE and SWASFT completing a PhD which is focused on improving the recognition and response to patients at imminent risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and I continue to develop new funding bids for prehospital research.

My research areas of interest include improving outcomes from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, clinical decision-making, paramedic health and well-being, sepsis, safety netting, end of life care and improving triage of emergency calls.

I enjoy the challenge of prehospital research and the opportunity to improve the care of patients and the working lives of paramedics.

Kirby K., Voss S., Bird E., Benger J., (2021) Features of Emergency Medical System calls that facilitate or inhibit Emergency Medical Dispatcher recognition that a patient is in, or at imminent risk of, cardiac arrest: A systematic mixed studies review.  Resusc Plus. 2021 Nov 18;8:100173. doi: 10.1016/j.resplu.2021.100173. PMID: 34841368; PMCID: PMC8605417. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34841368/

Stokes E., Lazaroo M., Clout M., Brett S., Black S., Kirby K. et al. (2021) Cost-effectiveness of the i-gel supraglottic airway device compared to tracheal intubation during out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: Findings from the AIRWAYS-2 randomised controlled trial. Resuscitation. 167:1-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resuscitation.2021.06.002

Goodwin L., Proctor A., Kirby K. et al. (2021) Staff stakeholder views on the role of UK paramedics in advance care planning for patients in their last year of life. Progress in Palliative Care.https://doi.org/10.1080/09699260.2021.1872140

Schofield B., Voss S., Proctor A., Benger J., Coates D., Kirby K. et al. Exploring how paramedics are deployed in general practice and the perceived benefits and drawbacks: a mixed-methods scoping study. BJGP Open. 2020 ;4(2). DOI: 10.3399/bjgpopen20x101037. PMID: 32398344; PMCID: PMC7330225. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgpopen20x101037

Kirby K., Brandling J. et al. (2020) The experiences of EMS providers taking part in a large randomised trial of airway management during out of hospital cardiac arrest, and the impact on their views and practice. Results of a survey and telephone interviews. Resuscitation. 149:1-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resuscitation.2020.01.034

Thomas M., Voss S., Benger J., Kirby K., Nolan J. (2019) Cluster randomised comparison of the effectiveness of 100% oxygen versus titrated oxygen in patients with a sustained return of spontaneous circulation following out of hospital cardiac arrest: a feasibility study. PROXY: post ROSC OXYgenation study. BMC Emergency Medicine. 2019 Jan 25;19(1):16. doi: 10.1186/s12873-018-0214-1. https://dx.doi.org/10.1186%2Fs12873-018-0214-1

Green J., Kirby K., and Hope S. (2018) Ambulance clinicians’ perceptions, assessment and management of frailty: thematic analysis of focus groups. British Paramedic Journal. 3(3):23-33. https://doi.org/10.29045/14784726.2018.

Benger JR, Kirby K, Black S, et al. (2018) Effect of a Strategy of a Supraglottic Airway Device vs Tracheal Intubation During Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest on Functional Outcome. The AIRWAYS-2 Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2018;320(8):779–791. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.2018.11597

Voss S., Brandling J., Taylor H., Black S., Buswell M., Cheston R., Cullum S., Foster T., Kirby K., Prothero L., Purdy S., Solway C., Benger J. R. (2018) How do people with dementia use the ambulance service? A retrospective study in England: the HOMEWARD project. BMJ Open 2018;8:e022549. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016651

Rajogopal S., Booth S., Brown T., Ji Chen., Hawkes C., Siriwardena N., Kirby., Black., Spaight R., Gunson I., Brace McDonnell S., and Perkins G. (2017) Data quality and 30-day survival for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest registry: A data linkage study. BMJOpen. 2017;7:e017784. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017784

Stanley J., Kirby K., Robinson M., (2017) Prehospital lactate testing in the recognition and management of sepsis and septic shock: A proof of concept study. Journal of Paramedic Practice. 9(2):67-70.

Kim Kirby, Stephanie Moreland, and John Pollard (2016) The impact of working shifts: exploring the views of UK paramedics. Journal of Paramedic Practice. 2016 8:5, 252-257. https://doi.org/10.12968/jpar.2016.8.5.252

Kim Kirby (2013) Pre-hospital lactate testing in the identification of patients with sepsis: a review of the literature. Journal of Paramedic Practice. 2013 5:12, 698-703. https://doi.org/10.12968/jpar.2013.5.12.698

Jessica Lynde

Clinical Audit

Jessica has worked within the Research and Clinical Audit team at SWASFT since 2010. Although primarily focussing on Clinical Audit and national clinical performance indicators, she has accrued a fair bit of experience with assisting student researchers in writing their project proposals, when they plan to involve SWASFT. She has in-depth knowledge of the clinical data available, and has been engaged to create staff surveys, so welcomes ideas for local audit and service evaluation projects.

She has presented posters at 999 EMS Research Forum and has been involved in national work to fine tune the prioritisation of 999 calls with regard to different patient conditions. She is interested in discovering new ways to unlock the potentially powerful insight held within clinical data, ultimately for the benefit of both patients and the ambulance sector.

woman stood by horse

Ria Osborne


Ria has a Masters in Biomedical Science and has held a number of research roles during her career to date. Starting out in a Contract Research Organisation, Ria was responsible for Pharmacovigilance, processing serious adverse events and embedding quality assurance mechanisms throughout early-phase clinical trials.

Later taking up a role at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) as a Programme Manager, specialising in secondary research and evidence synthesis, Ria was responsible for overseeing the funding for a large number of academic institutions and research bodies, particularly Cochrane, the Campbell collaboration and Clinical Trials Units across the UK. She led on the development of new competitive funding streams and the production of systematic reviews from concept to publication.

Ria Joined SWASFT in May 2021 as Research Manager to apply and expand her research experience in an exciting and fast-paced clinical environment. Ria lives in the New Forest along with Jimmy-Chew the Bulldog, a cat called Harper (she’s the boss of the house), and a horse named Titan. If she isn’t working, or looking after the animals, Ria is singing with her band.

Click here for Ria’s research and publication history on Research gate

Ali Pugsley

Lead Research Paramedic

I began my career in Westcountry Ambulance Service in 2005 before the service became South Western Ambulance Service in 2006. I worked initially as an Ambulance Care Assistant, before completing my IHCD Technician course in late 2005 and IHCD Paramedic course in 2008. I completed my Paramedic Practice BSc (Hons) in 2023.

I joined the research team at the beginning of 2024 and split my time between research and my operational role. I am passionate about the role research plays in building evidence-based quality improvements to the patient care we provide in prehospital urgent and emergency care. I have participated in many research projects throughout my career by recruiting patients to studies. I look forward to the work SWASFT can complete together to benefit the health outcomes in our community.