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Young paramedic's life-saving research

Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014
Rachael Wallen
BIG OPPORTUNITY: Rachael Wallen loves her job as a paramedic. She got to present her research on a life saving heart procedure to a conference in the UK.

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Rachael Wallen is helping save lives around the world.

She has just returned from the United Kingdom where she presented her research on a life-saving procedure used to diagnose heart problems at the 999 EMS Research Forum Conference.

She got the opportunity after the research paper she completed during her final year at university was judged the best at an earlier Australasian conference.

It was the first time a Kiwi has been given the honour.

She told the conference that women are only about half as likely as men to be given an electrocardiogram in an ambulance as men.

The procedure is the one of the quickest and easiest ways to work out if a patient is having a heart attack.

"If you do the test early enough it can save up to an hour in getting the patient to the right place for treatment," Wallen says.

"It could mean the difference between life and death."

A patient could be given an electrocardiogram once they reach hospital or have other tests to get a result.

Performing an electrocardiogram involves placing 10 stickers across a patient's chest.

Wallen, who is based at the Tamaki Ambulance station, first thought modesty was the reason women were getting the test less often.

"We thought maybe they didn't want it."

It turned out this wasn't the case.

"They weren't fussed - there is no real reason for it," Wallen says.

One conclusion she came to in her research is paramedics could be more concerned about women's feelings about the procedure than the women themselves.

"Proving women don't mind having it done might help them do it more," she says.

At 24 Wallen is reasonably young to be a paramedic. She's been in the role for a year and has worked for St John for two years.

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- East And Bays Courier

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