Respiratory therapists form an integral part of any medical care team. They are especially important for air ambulances, as they normally deal with patients who have sustained critical injuries. Many times, such patients experience respiratory distress and require emergency help from a trained professional. If you’re trying to become a respiratory therapist to provide professional care for such patients, this article will give you a brief guide regarding the process.
Meeting the Educational Requirements
The standard requirement to become a respiratory therapist is a college education in the related field. Every state that gives out a license in respiratory therapy require candidates to completed a program in respiratory care at an accredited and recognized institution. To meet the minimum requirement for getting a license, you’ll need at least an associate’s degree with two complete academic years of study along with a clinical experience.
Regardless of whether you’re becoming a respiratory therapist for air ambulances or other emergency services, you’ll need to be proficient in the following:
- Respiratory care
- Oral and written communication
- Social/behavioral sciences
- Biomedical/natural sciences
What’s Next to Become an RT for Air Ambulances?
Once you’ve completed the relevant degree program approved by the CoARC or Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care, you can move forward to the licensing procedure. You will need to pass the Certified Respiratory Therapist examination. In some states, you will be allowed to begin working in the field with a temporary license before you take the CRT exam.
Some employers, however, may also require that you have a Registered Respiratory Therapist credential as well. Since January 2015, this credential became a standard requirement for licensure in states like California and Ohio. After getting certified, you can then apply for licensure from the state and become a licensed respiratory therapist.
When it comes to accreditations for an air ambulance company, CAMTS certification is one of the most popularly known. Big names in the industry have started to pile on their accreditation records with the IS-BAO certification. While this certification was already introduced in 2003, only several air ambulance specialists have successfully been accredited. Let’s take a look at some important information about the IS-BAO certification.
More about IS-BAO Accreditation
IS-BAO stands for International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations. It was developed by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) along with its member associations. As the name suggests, the certification proves that a certain service follows the recommended code of best practices for flight departments over the world. It was designed to ensure that these flight service companies maintain a high level of safety and professionalism.
The IS-BAO accreditation is recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S. and the Canadian Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as meeting the ICAO standard. Additionally, it is also recognized as an industry standard for business aircraft operations by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).
In 2012, the IS-BAO was amended so that it will facilitate the implementation by helicopter operators. It was a result of a joint effort made by the IBAC with helicopter associations like HAI, EHA, and BHA.
Benefits for Air Ambulance Specialists
The IS-BAO program can be beneficial to air ambulance specialists and the aviation community itself in a number of ways. Here are a few of those benefits:
- The implementation of predictive and proactive methods enhance operational safety
- The implementation of safety practices across teams promotes and improves safety culture
- An integrated Safety Management System (SMS) helps in improving efficiency and effectiveness
- Increased appreciation of aircraft operations at the executive level
Enhanced ability to carry out safety performance measurement
It can be a challenge to find the right provider for air ambulance transport especially when you have a lot on your plate. The good news is that you can always conduct a search online, which makes this task much easier. During this process, however, you may come across air ambulance brokers who may portray themselves so convincingly as actual air ambulance operators.
How to Differentiate Between a Provider and a Broker for Air Ambulance Transport
Although it’s common knowledge that air ambulance brokerage services aren’t a good idea, many people don’t realize this until it’s too late. So how do you spot an ambulance broker online? Here are a few basic tips to help you out:
- If there are pictures of aircrafts on the website, look for the tail numbers and see if they correspond to the aircraft model on the FAA website. You can then identify the company licensed to operate that particular aircraft.
Look for pictures where the aircraft doesn’t have a tail number or where the logos seem over imposed on the original photo. With decent photoshop skills, anyone can alter images.
- Be cautious of careful wordings on the website content. For instance, they could be saying that they “have access to” a certain aircraft even if they don’t “own and operate” that aircraft. Instead of “providing” air ambulance transport, they could be “arranging” for such transport.
- Look for the contact information and see if the company has a physical address. This is far more trustworthy than an anonymous P.O. box number. Additionally, local or geographic phone numbers are more preferable than a toll free number.
- Find out if the website has a copy of the Air Operator Certificate on display. If not, then ask them to send you a copy because no company has the right to operate an aircraft without it.
While some brokers may provide valuable service, many of them may be just on the look-out for profits. That’s why it’s mostly recommended to be aware of air ambulance brokerage services when searching for air ambulance operators online.
Travelling by air ambulance can be easy when you choose the right service, as you’ll have a flight coordinator to assist you with everything. However, the process of availing medical flight can be a bit more complicated for patients with chronic kidney disease.
Preparing for a Medical Flight
When you have to travel with a kidney issue, you will need to work with a case worker in locating a dialysis facility at your travel destination. This is, if in case, you’re not getting hospitalized at the destination and are planning for a different accommodation.
Make sure you listen to your body when it’s telling you enough is enough. It’s important to communicate with your doctor regarding limits – whether it’s with water intake or food consumption.
Being Prepared for the Plane Ride
Healthy people can effortlessly get through a plane ride but that’s not always the case for people with a kidney issue. Air travel can pose a number of issues for such patients and it’s best to stay prepared in case such problems arise. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the plane ride:
- Avoid packing your meds with the rest of your luggage, as it may be difficult to access them. Instead, carry them in your handbag so you can easily take them when needed. You can use a thermal lunch bag to carry medication that needs to be refrigerated. Make sure you also carry extra medication in case you lose the regular dosage.
- Although you would have communicated with your flight coordinator regarding allergies and medications, it’s still a good idea to be prepared with a list detailing the schedule and dosages. Keep this list handy in your wallet or purse in case you need it later on.
Although the medical flight crew will try to keep you as comfortable as possible, try to bring along anything that increases your comfort. Always communicate with them if you feel there’s a way they could help you further.
A case manager’s job can be hectic, especially when it comes to coordinating air ambulance transport. Even the most experienced ones may only coordinate a few of these every year. So it may be difficult to be informed on all the details necessary in planning a successful transport. Maybe you got all the details of their medical needs correctly but forgot to verify the patient’s insurance coverage. Or maybe you missed out on verifying the certifications of the air ambulance company. There are plenty of details one should remember when coordinating transport via an air ambulance and here’s a tip to help you out.
Assess the Various Needs
Before a patient avails air ambulance transport, you need to contact the discharging physician for medical reports and also ascertain the reason for transport. You will need to establish the date of transport and coordinate with the accepting facility. The process of assessing needs also involves recapping the patient’s current condition and determining their life support needs. Before you move on to the next step, you need to identify the payer – whether it’s the insurance company, patient or patient advocate, or facility.
Collect estimates for Air Ambulance Transport
The next step requires you to secure air ambulance estimates, which involves determining an estimated cost of the transport and details of the service. This means determining the aircraft type, whether or not the service is bed-to-bed, etc. You will need to verify a few things including insurance coverage, personnel qualification, and whether or not the entity is an operator. Another certification you need is for the entity in terms of industry associations and FAA Part 13 certificate. Don’t forget to provide transport parameters and verify everything in writing.
Before executing transport, make sure you secure an itinerary from the operator and coordinate with the floor. Verify details like pickup time, transport/discharge orders, and receiving facility. Keep the receiving facility updated on the patient’s condition for a smooth transport.
Medical flights have resulted in hundreds of lives being saved every year. This is because an air ambulance can do many things that a ground ambulance may find difficult – such as reaching remote areas within short periods of time. The speed and efficiency of an aircraft can make a huge difference, especially in critical situations where a few minutes’ delay can be fatal. These services are provided by well-built aircrafts that are equipped with the latest medical facilities.
Swift Medical Service with Jets
Services that provide a combination of air transportation and medical care make use of different types of aircrafts – from helicopters and smaller airplanes to the swiftest jets. The Learjet is among the best type of aircraft used for providing medical transport. Some of the popularly used models in a medical transport fleet are Gulfstream, Falcon, and King Air. With various models having different transport capacities, the larger ones are ideal for carrying a number of attendants along with the patient and medical crew.
One of the best models is the Learjet 35A, which can fly nonstop over a 2000-mile range. With an average speed of 500mph, the 35A can fly over the 2000 miles in just 4.5 hours. This makes the model ideal for companies providing medical transport service via air.
High-end Equipments for Medical Flights
An aircraft providing medical transport service will be fitted and equipped with the latest devices for providing comprehensive medical care on board. The standard equipment list for medical flights generally include FAA-approved stretchers, portable suction units, blood pressure monitors, oxygen, incubation equipment, cardiac monitors, ventilation systems, and defibrillators. In cases where the patient may require a specialized equipment or device, the medical team can make a request to the flight coordinator.
Using these highly-equipped medical aircrafts, air ambulance operators are able to provide fast and comprehensive medical care and transport service to patients.
Whether or not plagued with a serious medical condition, the elderly may find it extremely difficult to travel. They may have to relocate to a different city, visit family, or seek special medical care; commercial flights may just not be suitable for seniors. In such cases, it may be wise for family members to arrange for air ambulance flights that will ensure a safe and pleasant travel experience for them.
Medical Escorts or Air Ambulance Flights
There has been an ongoing debate about whether medical escorts or air ambulance is more suitable for elderly individuals. In a medical escort service, a trained and experienced escort is with your loved one throughout their travel. This can be extremely beneficial for relieving stress and ensuring that they reach their destination safely.
The escort has the necessary training and certification to handle any medical emergencies a patient might encounter along the way. This service is more cost-efficient and easily accessible for most families. However, many seniors may still find it too stressful to travel commercially despite having a trained escort with them.
In air ambulance flights, elderly patients are assured of a safe and comfortable travel experience. These flights are properly equipped with necessary medical facilities such as oxygen, cardiac life support, and IV infusion, which may not be readily available in a commercial flight. Some seniors may require constant medical monitoring if their health or mental condition isn’t too stable. In an air ambulance, the in-flight medical crew is equipped and trained to perform such tasks.
Comprehensive in-flight Care for Elders
Relocating an elderly loved one with an air ambulance helps ensure that they avoid all the airport hassles while receiving top-level care from a trained medical crew. Such services help your customize their travel based on their needs and preferences. Additionally, you can make arrangements with the flight coordinators for ground transportation so as to get comprehensive bedside-to-bedside service for your elderly loved one.
Transporting patients by air ambulance involves travelling long distances, which means that you need to make some preparations if you’re accompanying a loved one. You probably already know the complete process of availing air ambulance flights. However, you should also be aware of how to be the most comfortable and maintain your health during such flights.
Preparing Before the Flight
There are a number of things you need to do to ensure that you don’t suffer during the long flight:
- The day before the flight, drink plenty of water to hydrate your body. This is one of the most basic tips that some people ignore or sometimes forget but it really helps in providing a better flight experience.
- Do not consume any kind of alcohol or caffeine in the hours leading to the flight. The air inside aircrafts tends to be dry and since these substances act as dehydrators they can make your flight uncomfortable.
- If you’re prone to sinus troubles, you might want to take a decongestant one day before the flight.
- Enquire with the crew beforehand if they keep any drinks and snacks on board. If they don’t, ask if you’re allowed to bring some of your own. These can be especially useful in maintaining your hydration and blood sugar levels during long air ambulance flights.
- Be prepared with multiple layers of clothing in case the temperature inside the aircraft gets too hot or too cold. You can easily control the temperate by adding or removing layers.
- Start boosting your immune system with vitamin C supplements a few days before the flight. You can also use Echinacea supplements for this or have these with the vitamin C. A stronger immune system will help you fight off germs that are likely to circulate in the aircraft.
What to do During Air Ambulance Flights
During the flight, it’s crucial that you avoid sitting in positions that could be inhibiting to your blood circulation for long periods of time. This means that you should avoid keeping your legs crossed. You can avoid blood clots or deep vein thrombosis by stretching your legs. While the comfort and health of patients is of the utmost importance, attendants should also be able to travel comfortably for such flights.
When availing any kind of medical service, it’s always a good idea to be armed with some knowledge about the service. Even when it comes to medical transportation via air, there are a number of facts and rules patients should know. That’s why we’re going to give you a brief yet comprehensive guide on some important facts about air ambulance service.
Checklist for air ambulance service
When you’re preparing for medical transportation by air, here are a few things you should not forget:
- It would be of great help to be prepared with most of the basic patient information such as name, height, weight, date of birth, and medical condition. Additionally, you might want to specify details about special requirements such as diet and/or equipment (IV, ventilator, oxygen, etc.).
- Further, it would be helpful if you can provide other specifics like the patients’ ability to sit or whether they would require a wheelchair or stretcher. This will help the medical team in quickly and efficiently providing appropriate assistance.
- There are numerous myths surrounding air ambulance coverage, so it would be wise to read up on the facts about insurance coverage for such services. If the patient has health insurance, arrange for copies of insurance card and recent health and physical from a hospital or discharging facility. Also, keep a copy of the “face sheet” of the said hospital or facility.
- Most medical aircrafts allow only one carry-on suitcase (maximum size 21”) per passenger. If you have any excess baggage beyond this, make sure you communicate with the flight coordinator as the aircraft may not have room to accommodate it.
What about international transfers?
In case of international transfers, when availing air ambulance service, you will need to carry copies of a current non-expired passport, necessary travel documents, and visa for each passenger. For those who don’t have a copy of their passport, you will need to be prepared to provide some personal information. The required information includes full legal name and date of birth along with passport number and expiration date, home address, and place of birth.
While it’s not always easy to arrange for all this in case of emergencies, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. This will ensure that you have a smooth transaction and pleasant experience if you need emergency medical transport service by air.
Contrary to popular belief, hospitals are rarely involved in dispatch of a medical flight. The decision is almost entirely taken by the ground crew and treating doctor who determine whether the patient would benefit from an air ambulance service or not. Of course, there are some protocols that are followed. Although the process and protocols vary depending on the jurisdiction, there are certain common determinants that we discuss here.
Time Taken for Medical Flight Dispatch
It must be understood that not all hospitals have a medical flight on standby. It takes a reasonable amount of time to get the flight ready for takeoff. If this time and the time required to transport the patient is too much when compared to ground ambulance transport, the latter may be chosen. There is also a cost consideration when the difference in time advantage is too small.
Location and Distance of Transfer
This is another important criterion. Sometimes the location is too far away from the hospital and the patient’s health does not permit long travel times. Also, the location may be inaccessible through roads. In circumstances like these, the decision is usually made to opt for a medical flight to keep the patient safe.
The Condition of the Patient
This is of extreme importance. A delay by half an hour can mean the difference between life and death for the patient. In scenarios like these, a decision is taken quickly to call for an air ambulance and the patient is transported. Near-drowning, prior history or suspected stroke, and severe trauma could be some of the conditions that could influence the decision.
The Weather Conditions for the Medical Flight
If there are adverse weather conditions that prevent the choppers from flying, the patient may be transported through other means. As a matter of policy, the lives of crew members are not put to risk knowing very well that taking off in bad weather could be fatal.
It is important to understand that the above are just a few of the reasons that influence medical flight dispatch decisions. It is always the competent medical authority that takes the final decision.