Medical Flight Crews and Mental Health Amid COVID-19

Medical flight crews are at the frontline of the COVID-19 battle. While these brave men and women are tirelessly working for the good of patients, the fact remains that it is taking an immense toll on their mental health. The working conditions have drastically changed – sanitization and donning of PPE are necessary at every step. Not just that, there is the constant fear of contracting the infection and eventually passing it on to the loved ones. Torn between the sense of responsibility towards the society and to their families, medical flight crews are under tremendous pressure today. However, help is not far for such individuals.

Medical Flight Companies Recognize the Need to Help

Medical flight companies around the world are formulating policies that offer help when the crew members need it the most. Offering counseling and professional mental health on particularly tough days is one such effort. Also, companies are keeping an open line so that the frontline workers can seek help when they need it. Some of them are even going to the extent of preparing questionnaires to assess the mental status of the healthcare workers who constantly take to skies in tough situations.

William and Kate’s Foundation is Leading the Way

The two royals have been regularly advocating for the medical flight industry in the United Kingdom. Their efforts have been targeted at the mental health of frontline workers too. Now, they have set up a fund of British Pounds 1.8 million that will help this cause. The idea is to include the frontline workers as well as those affected heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their organization will lend a helping hand to 10 chosen charitable entities. Access to peer-to-peer support and mental health resources is among them. The effort will surely help when the anxiety level among medical flight crews is perhaps at its highest.

Blood Transfusions during Air Medical Transport

The air medical transport industry has improved a lot over time. From being a mere carrier from point A to point B, the services today act as mini ICUs offering life-saving services during transit. Ventilators and defibrillators have long been a part of some air ambulances. Now, going a step forward, a South Dakota based air medical transport company will provide blood and plasma transfusion as the patient is transported. The medical flight service provider will keep blood and plasma handy in case of emergencies. It is an important milestone, in that the development will directly impact the ultimate medical outcomes.

Air Medical Transport Services will be Able to Respond More Effectively

Air medical transport service providers are often a part of evacuations during accidents. In many of these cases, blood loss is the root cause of emergencies. Now, instead of waiting for hospitals, air ambulance services will be able to provide the urgently needed blood transfusions. Of course, qualified medical personnel will need to be a part of such services so that the right call is taken and on time. Air ambulances are expected to carry universal and most common blood groups to be able to cater to the patients.

Air Ambulance Industry has always been at the Forefront of Offering Better Care

We often see the air medical transport industry being a part of the headlines for reasons like high bills. However, what is almost never highlighted is the fact that they increase the survival rates of the patients. It must be understood that offering enhanced care comes at a cost, which should ideally be borne by the insurance providers, failing which obviously the burden will be passed to the ultimate beneficiary– the patient. This is an area of concern that must be solved, lest the air ambulance industry will not find the right incentive to offer better care.

Air Ambulance Disinfection Protocol

Disinfecting the air ambulance has become one of the topmost concerns for the industry today. The problems that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth are unprecedented. It is, therefore, no surprise that air ambulance companies are grappling to find an effective protocol that can be followed. When one refers to safety, it’s all-inclusive today – from the crew members to the patients. Here are some steps that are highly recommended.

Follow a Consistent Air Ambulance Disinfection Protocol

The Centers for Disease Control in the United States recommends that air ambulance companies follow a consistent protocol. The basic rule is to ensure adequate ventilation during the cleaning process, especially when using chemical disinfectants. The aircraft doors should remain open during this process.

Wearing Personal Protective Equipment is Necessary

Donning personal protective equipment or PPE is very important. Keep in mind that the Coronavirus can remain on surfaces for hours. You do not want to contract the infection by coming in direct contact with it during the cleaning process. Discard the PPE right after the cleaning process is complete.

Adequate Ventilation is Very Important

It is hard to provide ventilation when an air ambulance has taken off. However, an adequate inlet of light is helpful. When the air ambulance is not in use, care must be taken to allow adequate airflow too. This is particularly helpful in getting rid of airborne infections like the COVID-19.

Using Appropriate Disinfectants is Absolutely Vital

Bleach is very widely used as a disinfectant but can give rise to noxious fumes. A detergent-based disinfectant is most effective. This is because the Coronavirus is covered by a layer of fat and soaps are known to dissolve fat instantly. The process instantly kills COVID-19.

Disposal of Soiled Linens

It is highly recommended that the soiled linen is not shaken in any way and is disposed of in a careful manner so that any infection-causing virus is not transferred to the surrounding surface.

It is imperative that the guidelines laid down by agencies like the CDC are followed meticulously. There is no substitute for these life-saving guidelines.

Medical Air Services Face a New Set of Challenges

The Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Medical Air Services recently revealed that they are witnessing a whopping 40% increase in demand for their services. On the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a sharp fall in the finances.

As the nations around the world have eased lockdowns, more and more people are out on the streets. This has increased the chances of injuries related to accidents and crime. The medical air services are seeing a proportionate increase in demand due to these factors.

In regions where the lockdowns have not been eased, the rise in domestic violence and anxiety-related ailments are on a sharp rise. However, the medical flight companies are in a bind.

Health Risk Faced by Medical Air Services Crews

The crews of medical air services are highly exposed to the risk of contracting deadly Coronavirus. When you look at the world scenario, there have been several reports of frontline workers being infected. This puts added pressure on the remaining staff. Added to this problem is the inability to act fast due to the stringent disinfection process being put in place for the safety of the crew as well as the patients.

Air Ambulance Organizations Dependent on Charities are Struggling to Raise Money

It is a known fact that people around the world are losing jobs and consequently their income. In a situation like this, raising money for causes like that of medical air services is an uphill task. For countries like the United Kingdom where air ambulance organizations depend heavily on charity, this is a big blow. Besides, it is tough for individuals to initiate fund-raising activities. All these factors have rendered the industry a heavy blow. Countries like the United States where air ambulance companies are already reeling under losses, shutting down seems like a real threat.