What Causes Injury for Air Ambulance Transport Paramedics?

Have you ever suffered from workplace injuries before? Maybe you’ve experienced knee pain or incessant back pain as a result of your work in the air ambulance industry. When you’re an air ambulance transport paramedic, you are exposed to work conditions that could result in certain injuries. This post is going to discuss the causes of those injuries.

Certain Body Motions can Cause Injury

Body motion injuries are easily one of the most common injuries among EMS personnel. Paramedics often have to sit in awkward postures for extended periods of time. Sometimes they have to put in excessive physical effort in moving or lifting patients. They even have to go through repetitive movement, which could all result in an injury. In many cases, the body motion injuries may occur while air ambulance paramedics are in the middle of lifting or moving  a patient that is overweight or obese.

Accidental Exposure to Harmful Substances

When you’re working as an air ambulance transport paramedic, you often have to work around harmful substances. For instance, the respiratory secretions or the blood of certain patients may be harmful. And EMS personnel can get exposed to these substances through needlesticks, spitting, or coughing. So in addition to wearing gloves, it’s crucial that you wear protective masks or face shields to prevent exposure.

Air Ambulance Transport Paramedics can Slip, Trip, or Fall

Due to the physically challenging nature of their work, air ambulance paramedics can easily get injured when they slip, trip, or fall. They could experience these accidents while boarding or getting off their air ambulance helicopter. They could also slip on wet surfaces at the scene of accidents. And it’s even riskier to experience these accidents when you’re in the middle of lifting or carrying a patient or even your equipment.

More Hypothermia Info for Medical Air Transport Paramedics

In the previous post, we talked about the causes and symptoms of hypothermia. But that’s not enough information to help medical air transport paramedics in dealing with patients who suffer from hypothermia. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at some other important facts about the condition.

How Hypothermia Impacts People

The worst thing about hypothermia is that it can affect every single organ in the body. In the case of mild hypothermia, a patient may experience confusion, amnesia, slurred speech, and impaired judgment. As the condition worsens, a patient that was once lethargic may become comatose and their reflexes may disappear. The central nervous system also becomes unable to regulate the cardiovascular system.

Need for Medical Air Transport Paramedics to be Aware of Special Populations

What’s important for medical air transport paramedics to remember is that there are certain age groups and types of people that are more vulnerable to hypothermia. Interestingly, patients who are either extremely old or extremely young tend to be the most vulnerable age groups. Both of these age groups have less physiologic reserve in addition to a decreased ability to produce heat when needed.

Some elderly patients may be unable to sense ambient temperature, leaving them unable to protect themselves from the cold. So during winters, you may notice that some older patients can become hypothermic even just from staying inside a house that’s slightly too cold for them. Since they have decreased compensatory ability, hypothermia may develop even when the temperature doesn’t seem too cold to you.

In case of neonatal patients, they have almost zero ability to defend themselves against the cold. That is the reason why warming plays such a crucial role in resuscitating patients who fall under this category. Infants that are five days old or more may be able to metabolically compensate, but they are still extremely prone to heat loss.

What You Need to Know about Hypothermia When Providing Medical Air Transport

When you’re working as a care provider for medical air transport, you come across different kinds of patients. Although you will most often encounter trauma patients, you might even have to conduct search and rescue missions if you’re based at a remote location. That’s when you might come across patients with accidental hypothermia.

Even in other cases when the patient has an underlying condition, there may be chances of hypothermia occurring. It’s important to carefully understand the condition so you can provide necessary pre-hospital care.

Understanding the Causes of Hypothermia

First of all, you should understand that accidental hypothermia can be of two types – primary and secondary. When the body is exposed to a cold environment for extended periods of time, it can result in primary hypothermia. In other words, this type of hypothermia isn’t caused by an underlying condition.

Secondary hypothermia, on the other hand, can occur when the body’s ability to regulate its heat balance is disrupted or there’s a decreased ability to generate or conserve heat. Burn victims, stroke patients, sepsis patients, etc. may be susceptible to hypothermia. Medical air transport providers should also watch out for hypothermia in patients with hypopituitarism, hypothyroidism, hypoadrenalism, or hypoglycaemia.

Substances like sedatives, alcohol, beta-blockers, antipsychotics, and oral antihyperglycemics can also result in conditions that cause secondary hypothermia. Major trauma, tumours, CNS injuries, and infusion or cold fluids could also be other possible causes.

Identifying Hypothermia Symptoms for Medical Air Transport Care Providers

Although it’s a bit of a challenge to recognize hypothermia, you can look for signs like depressed vital signs, speech difficulty, memory problems, mydriasis, behavioral disturbances, etc. You might also notice that patients with hypothermia may fail to shiver even if they’re obviously cold. Their pulse and respiration may also be a bit more difficult to detect although present.

How Novice Air Medical Transport Paramedics Can Make Great Pre-Hospital Splints

If you work as an air medical transport paramedic, there’s a good chance you will respond to emergencies in which the patient requires a splint. This will usually be in situations where the patient has undergone some form of physical trauma and fracture. You may think you’re already an expert in splinting but there’s always room for improvement.

Tips for Better Splinting in Air Medical Transport Paramedicine

As a novice paramedic, you may still be nervous when you come across actual patients that require a splint. Here are a few tips that will make it easier for you to make great pre-hospital splints:

  • Take your time if the patient is stable – There may be times when you need to splint an extreme fracture when you respond to a call. If the patient’s condition is stable, it’s important that you avoid rushing through the splinting process. Although you may get nervous, there’s no harm in taking a few extra minutes to carefully splint the fracture before taking them for air medical transport.
  • Make the most of pillows – Pillows provide good padding when you need to splint a fracture. They also act as effective splints even on their own. So if your patient has a distal fracture, you just need to roll up the injured part in a pillow and tape it firmly. But make sure the toes or fingers are sticking out.

Opt to control the pain beforehand – Although splinting is intended to reduce pain, the splinting process itself can be very painful. If your patient is screaming in pain it may be difficult for you to concentrate on the splinting and you may end up making a mistake. So try to administer some analgesics beforehand if possible.