The life of paramedic, nurse, doctor, or pilot is hectic especially if you’re working for an air ambulance. You run the risk of fatigue and you may be unable to balance your work and life efficiently. And if you work in shifts, you’re also at risk of developing a disorder known as shift work disorder. This could impair your ability to carry out your medical flight duties efficiently.
Shift Work Disorder Could Pose Threats to Medical Flight Workers
When you’re in the air ambulance industry, your physical and mental health is crucial because you have other people depending on you. So if you suspect that you have developed shift work disorder, it would be wise to seek treatment immediately. Here are some of the common symptoms to help you assess yourself:
- Being sleepy excessively at times when you need to stay awake
- Being unable to fall asleep when you need to or waking up before getting sufficient sleep
- Constantly getting insufficient sleep or being unable to get restful sleep
- Lack of energy
- Lack of concentration
- Irritability and depressive moods
Due to all these issues, you may even face problems maintaining healthy personal relationships – whether it’s with your partner, colleagues, or family members.
Causes of Shift Work Disorder
Shift work disorder, as the name suggests, is common in people who work shifts. And that’s why people who work in a medical flight run a high risk of developing the disorder. Night shifts and rotating shifts as well as early morning shifts can result in shift work disorder.
And due to shift work disorder, you may eventually experience chronic sleep deprivation, which can seriously ruin your health, safety, and productivity. You’ll normally find yourself struggling to stay awake when you need to and restless when you should be asleep.
Whether you’re a pilot, a paramedic, a nurse, or a doctor; working in a medical flight crew means one thing – shift work. And shift work can bring with it several issues and can particularly affect your sleeping pattern. And lack of proper sleep can take its toll on your physical and mental health. In this post, you will learn how to overcome sleep issues that result from working in shifts.
How to get Better Sleep – Medical Flight Crews
Lack of sleep can make you lethargic. This could in turn impact your ability to carry out your duties as a medical flight crew member as it impacts your attention, concentration, and reaction time. Here are a few things you can do to overcome your sleep issues:
- Naps – Naps can refresh your mind and give you more alertness to carry out your duties. If you’re working the night shift, try to take a quick nap before you head to work.
- Proper meals – Regardless of your schedule, try to maintain regular eating hours and have at least three proper meals a day. By having a regular meal time, you signal your body clock and makes sure it knows when to induce sleepiness.
- Prepare for shift changes – Your crew may have rotating shifts, which makes it difficult to maintain a regular sleep schedule. But before your shift schedule changes, you could try adjusting your sleep time gradually so your body can adapt to the change. Instead of subjecting your body to a sudden change, you’ll be easing it into the new shift schedule so you won’t face too many sleep issues.
In some cases, you may even need medications to help you fall asleep after shift changes. But you should never use them as a long-term solution.
When you’re a medical care provider, there’s no knowing when your help might suddenly be required even on your off day. And your intervention can make all the difference for someone who needs immediate medical care. That’s why medical flight paramedics, doctors, nurses, and EMS paramedics alike should take it upon themselves to carry individual first aid kits.
What Medical Flight Paramedics Need in a Personal First Aid Kit
Before you prepare your individual first aid kit, you need to be sure about what you should expect out of the kit. Of course you can’t carry around every type of medical equipment that you normally work on. But the kit should contain some basic items that can help you provide care in common emergency situations.
Your personal first aid kit should be easy to carry around inside your bag or pockets. You should be able to access it easily but make sure you keep it protected from the elements. Although there may be several pre-stocked personal first aid kits available at your local pharmacy, it doesn’t hurt to prepare one on your own.
Content Ideas for Personal First Aid Kits
When considering which items to include in the kit, think of what you would normally use to treat minor injuries or aches. Band aids, cotton balls, and over-the-counter pain meds are a few examples. In addition to this, medical flight paramedics can include items like bandages, antibiotic ointments, gauze pads, etc. in their personal first aid kits.
You can customize the contents as needed. Every once in a while, you might even want to revise what you include in the kit. If you hardly need a certain item, for instance, you could switch it out with something else that you normally need but hadn’t included yet.
Your dream is to become an air ambulance paramedic and save lives as best as you can. But the problem is that you just don’t have the time or opportunity to pursue this dream. That’s where online paramedic degree programs enter the picture. If you’re looking for a chance to fulfill your dream of becoming a medical flight paramedic, this could be the answer.
Benefiting From Online Medical Flight Paramedic Programs
When it comes to something as complicated and hands-on as paramedicine, you may be wondering how an online training course will give you the necessary knowledge. But it’s important to know that paramedic training requires both hands-on experience and book learning.
While an online training course may not be able to sufficiently provide hands-on training, it provides you with essential theoretical learning, which makes up a large part of paramedic training. And many online courses may also offer several opportunities for in-field training as well. So for someone who doesn’t have the time to dedicate to a full-time medical flight paramedicine training, online courses are an excellent option.
You can learn through video lectures, reading assignments, and quizzes. You’ll also have full access to training material at any time of the day. So this makes for a flexible learning schedule. Online paramedic training programs are an excellent choice if you have family to look after or previous work commitments that prevent you from taking up an in-class training program.
Schools Providing Online Paramedic Training Programs
If you’re interested to go for an online paramedic training program, you can check out some of the following schools:
Interested in becoming a supervisor for an air ambulance company? You might have spent several years in the air ambulance industry as part of the response team. But now you want to take on a leadership position and become an air ambulance transport supervisor. However, it’s important to know that being a supervisor is just as much challenging as responding to medical emergencies.
Responsibilities of an Air Ambulance Transport Supervisor
The responsibilities and requirements of an air ambulance supervisor may differ according to which air ambulance company you’re working for. Each company may have certain requirements and some supervisors may have it easier than others if they have plenty of other supervisors to assist them in their role. But in general, here are some of the main responsibilities you’ll have to carry out as an air ambulance transport supervisor:
- Manage the work schedules and time offs for various staff members. You’ll need to make sure that you have enough workers at all times while evenly balancing their work hours to ensure they get proper rest.
- Set the performance expectations for all staff members and then evaluate their performances. You’ll need to ensure that each staff member properly carries out their duties and successfully complete the goals set for them.
- Conduct and oversee staff meetings on a daily basis, during which you need to make sure all the valid issues are addressed. And you should try to properly communicate with your team to try and come up with a resolution for each issue.
- Provide assistance in recruitment processes and then providing training to new recruits. You will also need to motivate all the staff members so that each department fulfills their duties efficiently.
In addition to these basic duties, your company might assign some more tasks and responsibilities based on their requirement.
In an earlier post, we talked about how air ambulance workers can achieve better physical and mental health through yoga. Now we’re going to talk about a common problem that many medical flight crew members face – neck pain. When you’re working in an air ambulance, you have to limited space to work in. And you have to sit in a confined space for long periods of time. This is likely to cause neck pain, which can be stressful and unbearable.
Home Remedies for Neck Pain
Severe neck pain usually needs treatment by a medical professional. But in case of mild yet constant neck pain, you can try using some home remedies to relieve it. During the first few days, you’ll need to apply ice on the area affected. And then follow that up with heat application. You can either use a heating pad or a hot compress or even take a hot shower.
Even if you can’t take a few days off from your medical flight duty, try avoiding strenuous activities that could aggravate the symptoms. When you have the chance, try exercising your neck with slow stretches. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers that normally work for you.
Preventing Neck Pain in Medical Flight Workers
Once your neck pain is healed, the best thing to do is to follow methods to prevent the pain from resurfacing. This would include using good posture and frequently changing your position. However, it might be difficult to move around while you’re in an air ambulance. If you have to sit still mid-flight, try doing some neck exercises as mentioned earlier.
In other words, you need to avoid straining your neck muscles too much. You should also try strengthening your muscles through regular exercise.
As a crewmember in an air ambulance, you may face several health issues due to stress or physical strain. Among these issues, back pain is easily one of the most common problem medical flight crewmembers experience. You have to operate in a cramped space for long periods of time with no room or option for proper movement. But the good news is that there are a few ways you can tackle this problem.
Preventing and Reducing Back Pain for Medical Flight Crews
Oftentimes, people in your profession will experience back pain even without any physical injury. But with timely measures, you can reduce the pain and even prevent further issues from occurring. Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Apply ice – It’s common knowledge that ice can help relieve certain types of pain. Ice has no side effects and relieves inflammation at the same time. And you might instinctively use it when you come across patients with those issues. But it’s quite common to forget that this treatment can apply to you as well.
When you experience back pain, try applying ice for somewhere around 10-15 minutes on the area that’s affected. You can also combine this treatment with an over-the-counter pain relief medicine. If the pain doesn’t go away, try reapplying more ice every couple of hours until you feel better.
- Strengthen your muscles – The first tip talks about pain relief. But since you’re in the medical flight industry, you should also prepare yourself for future issues as well. Make an effort to prevent more back pain by strengthening your lower back muscles. Try practicing strength and stability exercises two days a week. Deadlifts and glute bridges are some of the exercises you can try.
Working as a medical flight paramedic can leave you feeling exhausted – both mentally and physically. You work odd hours and may even have to respond to emergency situations at all hours of the day. Plus, working close to critically ill and injured people can take a toll on your emotional wellbeing. The good news is that you can start using yoga to attain better physical and mental health.
Why Yoga is Beneficial for Medical Flight Paramedics
Not sure how exactly yoga can benefit you for your work? Take a look at some of the reasons why yoga is such an excellent choice for paramedics and healthcare providers alike:
- Simplicity – You don’t have to go through complicated procedures to do yoga effectively. Just a few minutes of tactical breath work can improve your nervous system. You can prepare for your next mission just by taking a deep breath and directing it towards your belly.
- Stress relief – Yoga is one of the most effective exercise choices for relieving stress. Certain physical postures are designed to help remove stress from the mind. Just a few minutes of it can help you regain your focus and get rid of all the static.
- Mental stability – In addition to relieving stress, yoga can help you attain a more stable mind. This is crucial when you’re working as a medical flight because you need to have the mental capacity to handle all the pressure and urgency you’re going to experience.
All in all, yoga helps in building a stronger mind and body. It can help you cope better and efficiently fulfill your role as a medical care provider. Your patients need you to be strong for them. They need you to maintain your focus to be able to provide them with crucial medical care during emergencies. So you might want to consider taking up yoga.
As a medical flight paramedic, there’s always a chance that you’ll encounter patients with different kinds of illnesses no matter how rare. One of those diseases is acute flaccid myelitis, which affects the nervous system and is related to polio. This post will give you a fair idea about this illness and how you can determine whether or not patients are afflicted with it.
A Little About Acute Flaccid Myelitis
AFM or acute flaccid myelitis affects the nervous system and is especially concerning for the spinal cord. The disease can be caused by a number of things such as viral infections. Some characteristics of AFM are sudden weakness in the arm or leg, loss of muscle tone, and weaker reflexes. Patients may not necessarily experience numbness but pain in the arm or leg may be present.
AFM can also result in dysfunctional nerves around the head and neck. It can also make swallowing difficult and the eyes droop while the limbs become weak.
How to Detect AFM for Medical Flight Paramedics
The symptoms of AFM are usually similar to the symptoms of certain viral infections such as adenoviruses, poliovirus, West Nile virus, and non-polio enteroviruses. As mentioned earlier, numbness or tingling isn’t a common symptom. But patients may experience pain in the legs or arms.
Medical flight paramedics should also be concerned if a patient has difficulty urinating. In the most severe cases, AFM may also cause respiratory failure. This occurs when the disease affects muscles that help with breathing.
Acute flaccid myelitis is concerning because it mostly affects children as opposed to adults and there is no specific cure for it. Certain interventions based on the case may be recommended by doctors specializing in illnesses of the brain and spinal cord.
Until now, ground ambulance and medical flight paramedics alike did not have a specific guideline to follow when treating patients with syncope. Syncope, otherwise known as fainting, happens when there’s a lack of blood supply and the blood pressure drops to deprive the brain of oxygen. And now the American College of Cardiology has released a guideline to help you understand the best course of action to take when encountering such patients.
What to do When You Encounter a Medical Flight Patient with Syncope
When you respond to a situation in which a patient has fainted, here’s what you need to do:
- It’s crucial that your initial evaluation includes a detailed physical examination and medical history. This will help you identify whether there are any possible underlying conditions that could result in the fainting.
- Fainting usually occurs while standing when there’s a drop in blood pressure, as this reduces oxygen supply to the brain. In most cases, the condition may not be life-threatening. So you should do your best to try and ease the worries of your patients.
- If your medical flight carries a portable ECG, it’s best that you use it during your evaluation. This will help you determine if there’s any abnormality that requires treatment.
- During your evaluation, if you find out that the patient has a serious medical condition that possibly caused the fainting, it’s crucial that they are transported to a hospital immediately. This holds true even if the patient seems to be recovering fine from the fainting.
- You can rule out the need for unnecessary evaluations such as routine lab testing and routine cardiac imaging such as CT scan or MRI unless you suspect the patient has a cardiac issue. There’s also no need for carotid artery or head imaging unless you need to perform a further evaluation.
These are some of the important guidelines to follow when encountering patients with syncope. Watch out for the next post to find out more.