Basic Airway Management Tips for Medical Air Transport Providers

Even the most experienced healthcare professionals can find airway management quite challenging. While it’s a fundamental skill for all EMS professionals, it’s an extremely daunting task that requires precision, skill, and expertise. As medical air transport providers, you may also come across patients who need airway management and depend on your competence for their future.

Important Tips for Medical Air Transport Providers in Airway Management

When providing medical care to patients who need airway management, make use of the following tips to help make your job easier:

  1. Remember the good airway management hallmarks – oxygenate, ventilate, and protect the airway. You will be attempting to accomplish two physiological tasks that are equally important. For proper oxygenation and ventilation, you need to ensure that the airway is clear from blood or secretions.
  2. Don’t forget to conduct a thorough assessment and remain vigilant for any early signs of respiratory issues. Measure airway patency by determining the patient’s level of consciousness. Ideally, you will need to be more aggressive with patients that have a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) that is lower than 8.Your assessment should include measuring the adequacy of the patient’s breathing, whether it’s too fast or too slow, whether their breathing is shallow or deep, etc. Try to listen for abnormal sounds like snoring, grunting, stridor, or wheezing. All of these factors can have a huge impact on the success or failure of your airway management efforts when providing medical air transport.
  3. As someone who provides medical care, you need to master the use of whatever equipment you need. Your equipment usage should be true to the principles of airway management mentioned in point #1. Ensure that your suction devices, BVMS, and oral and nasal airways are working properly and of the right size for the patient.

Air Ambulance Transport for People with Altitude Sickness

High altitude can leave people with a certain type of sickness and edema, which may result in a call for air ambulance transport in many cases. Altitude sickness normally occurs at elevations higher than 8,000 feet. It is a combined result of genetic build-up, underlying conditions, and fitness level. The most common form of this condition is acute mountain sickness.

What Happens When a Person Has Altitude Sickness?

In your job as an air ambulance specialist, you may have come across a patient experiencing this condition. But not everyone knows how to determine whether or not someone has altitude sickness. In case of acute mountain sickness, the patient may experience symptoms like headache, decreased appetite, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, and general malaise.

In some cases, the patient may experience periodic breathing, which can be identified by irregular breathing that is mostly noticeable while sleeping. Many forms of altitude sickness may not be life-threatening although they may limit the body’s abilities. However, air ambulance transport may be crucial for patients with high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) or high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE).

Providing Air Ambulance Transport for Patients with Altitude Sickness

Acute mountain sickness doesn’t require a specific treatment, but it’s important for people to stop ascent until the symptoms subside. If the symptoms worsen, ensure proper hydration, which can significantly improve symptoms like headache. Descent can normally alleviate most symptoms of altitude sickness.

HAPE treatment requires the treatment of underlying pulmonary hypertension through descent. You will need to administer oxygen and other necessary medications. Even for patients with HACE, descent and oxygen usually help alleviate symptoms like irritability and headache. Many people make the mistake of getting such patients to descend alone. Instead of this, having an air ambulance chopper transport them back to safety is the best choice.

A Guide for Air Ambulance Specialists on Caring for Burn Victims

More than 450,000 people in the United States require medical treatment for burns every year. Since burns are so common, it’s likely that air ambulance specialists will come across at least one burn victim. How you initially asses and treat the patient can have a huge impact on their outcome, meaning that you need to keep yourself updated on the latest norms and trends in the treatment process.

Different Types of Burns Air Ambulance Specialists May Encounter

While all burns cause damage to the skin and the underlying tissue, not all burns are the same. Different types of burns can influence the treatment decision you need to take:

  • Thermal burns – Thermal burns make up 80% of the burn cases treated within the United States. It’s caused by exposure of the skin to open flame, scalding water, or intense flame. The damage to the skin can result in changes to the thermoregulatory system. This means that patients can become hypothermic unless air ambulance specialists take care to prevent heat loss. Pain management, aggressive airway management, and fluid resuscitation are also important.
  • Chemical burns – This type of burns is caused by exposure to different types of chemical compounds like acids, alkalis, and organics. It’s crucial that you remove any contaminated jewelry or clothing so as to limit exposure. Make sure you also use proper protective equipment to prevent exposure. If there’s any powder left on the skin, brush it off and immediately start flushing the contaminated areas using plain water.

    When you’re transporting the victim, continue the irrigation process but take care to avoid causing hypothermia in cases when you’re flushing large skin surfaces. Try using warm water in place of cold water.

In addition to these, you may come across people with electrical burns. The severity of this type of burns may be difficult to determine as they may cause internal injuries despite showing minimal evidence on the surface of the skin.

What You Need to Know about Critical Care Medical Air Transport

Patients in critical condition require extensive care. This makes it crucial for providers of critical care medical air transport to maintain efficiency and compassion in administering care. You can find air ambulance operators who provide specialized medical transportation services for such patients. The flights are fully-equipped with the latest medical tools for providing intensive care. The patients are also overseen by top-notch medical care providers from critical care nurses to in-flight doctors.

Comprehensive Care for Critical care Patients

Operators providing air ambulance critical care transport aim to provide the highest level of care to trauma patients. So they offer comprehensive care that isn’t just limited to transporting the patient to a hospital. They assign flight coordinators who make arrangements to provide the following services:

  • They aim to guarantee a smooth transfer from departure facility to destination facility. This will include obtaining medical reports and providing them to the receiving facility efficiently.
  • They make arrangements for ground ambulance service that will ensure optimum care in transportation between the medical facilities and the airport.
  • They assign an appropriate medical team for all medical air transport flights to ensure that each patient receives the right level of medical care. The composition of the team is tailored according to the needs and condition of the patient.
  • They even provide regular updates to family members and other necessary parties throughout the medical transfer.

Complete Equipment for Critical Care Medical Air Transport

Critical air ambulance aircrafts require a higher level of equipment than regular air ambulance aircrafts. So critical care aircrafts have to be equipped with the following:

  • Full mechanical ventilation including high-frequency oscillation ventilation and nitric oxide (NFOV)
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  • Ventricular assist devices
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Intra aortic balloon pump
  • Temporary pacemaker
  • Neonatal isolette transport
  • Point-of-care lab analysis capabilities
  • Invasive line insertion and monitoring

How to Become a Respiratory Therapist for Air Ambulances

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.

What You Need to Know about IS-BAO Accreditation for Air Ambulance Specialists

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

Tips for Spotting Brokers for Air Ambulance Transport

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.

Medical Flight Tips for Patients with Kidney Disease

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.

Tips for Case Managers to Plan Air Ambulance Transport

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 Flight Jets and Equipment: An Overview

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.

Air Ambulance and Medical Flight Transport Services: Everything you need to know!