While an air ambulance is extremely important to get the patient the care that he or she deserves right when it is needed, it is the paramedics who make sure that the patient gets adequate care in the interim. The situations that paramedics find themselves in are invariably stressful. What makes a great paramedic is the ability to function intelligently under stress. If you are mulling a career as an air ambulance paramedic, you need to do some amount of introspection before you get into it.
The Personality Prerequisites of an Air Ambulance Paramedic
- Begin by asking yourself the following questions:
- Am I usually calm and contained when faced with stressful situations?
- Am I a quick thinker?
- How is my level of physical fitness?
- How good are my problem-solving and analytical skills?
- Am I a team player?
- How good am I at remembering guidelines and protocols?
- Do I communicate effectively enough?
- Do I judge people? Am I a tolerant person?
- Do I enjoy working with people who have diverse backgrounds?
- Can I commit myself to a life of continuous learning?
The Pay is Good and the Work is Challenging
Touching human lives on a daily basis is something that drives certain individuals. However, one needs to take into consideration other factors like qualifications. It is also a lot of hard physical work at times. Once you take into considerations these factors, if you still feel that you have it in you to become an air ambulance paramedic, you should definitely go for it. Keep in mind that the wages you earn will be in tune with your qualification and your experience. So, patience is a virtue that you must possess. Finally, always choose qualifications that are internationally recognized.
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.
As a medical flight paramedic, you might have encountered a few sepsis patients on your missions. But have you had to deal with kids suffering from this problem? Sepsis treatment is already complicated and can be much more complicated in children. They can easily develop sepsis after developing an infection from a traumatic injury or an illness.
Pediatric Sepsis Assessment Tips for Medical Flight Paramedics
When you encounter a kid suspected of having sepsis, you can make use of the following tips to provide timely and accurate treatment:
- Assess complaints carefully – As you well know, there’s no test or clinical indicator for sepsis. So you need to carefully assess the various symptoms in your young patient to determine whether they’re suffering from the condition.
Fever, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, discharge or pus, foul-smelling urine, and runny nose are some of the common symptoms to look out for. If the patient is shivering, pale, sleepy, and suffering from shortness of breath and extreme discomfort, there’s a chance they have sepsis.
- Determine the patient’s medical history – In most cases, a patient’s medical history may make them more susceptible to sepsis. Try to determine if the patient has gone through anything that might decrease their immunity. For example, immunotherapy and chemotherapy as well as HIV/AIDS and regular steroid use can negatively affect the immune system.
You can also try to determine whether the patient suffers from any comorbidities that might leave them susceptible to infections and cardiovascular collapse. Cancer, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, poor cardiac/respiratory reserves, and liver/splenic dysfunction are some conditions to look out for.
In addition to this, see if the patient has had any recent surgery, traumatic injury, indwelling devices, or organ transplants. Medical flight paramedics should also note that children who depend on mechanical ventilation may also be more susceptible to sepsis.
You’re a supervisor for an air ambulance and you have to improve how you communicate to your employees. Maybe you’re making a small policy shift or you’re implementing a major change to your operations; better communication is crucial. It will ensure that everyone in your medical flight team is on the same page and there’s no one left behind.
Steps to Communicate Better to Your Medical Flight Team
Whether you’re making some changes to the deployment strategies or simply shifting schedules, effective communication is crucial for effective implementation of your plan. Here’s what you need to do:
- Write it out – To better understand how you can communicate to your team, you should clearly lay out your plan in writing. This plan will detail the various teams and audiences you will be addressing as well as the specific messages you should relay to those groups.
- Embrace transparency – If you’re implementing a change – no matter how big or small – it’s crucial that you’re honest and transparent with team members. For them to better understand your vision, you need to address their concerns and let them in on why the change was needed.
- Encourage questions – Your communication with your medical flight team shouldn’t be a one-way communication. Encourage team members to ask their questions so there’s an opportunity to address their doubts and concerns. Make them feel like they can ask you any questions or give you difficult feedback without a negative reprimand.
- Consider adjustments – If team members give you any feedback about what you’re doing, carefully consider them and see if there’s an opportunity for you to make adjustments. Or if you feel like your message isn’t effectively communicated, adjust the way in which you’re approaching the topic and relaying your message.
The recent despicable act of terrorism in Paris recently has got the world together in solidarity with the French. However, it can’t be denied that there is an air of insecurity that is lingering in the air. The attacks have made air ambulance coverage all the more important in a new world where violence seems to make its way in ways that one can’t imagine.
It has been seen that there is a spike in demand for air ambulance coverage off late. So, the vital question is “what kind of air ambulance coverage do I need when travelling abroad?” Your visit could be for business or recreation, you need to clarify certain things with your insurance carrier and also look for additional coverage.
Does Your Travel Insurance Provide Air Ambulance Cover?
It is likely that it doesn’t. Most travel insurances do not cover air ambulance evacuations at all. You don’t want to be stuck in a foreign country in case you’re caught in an unfortunate incident, amid all the chaos. The first thing that would linger in your mind is being with your family and loved ones. So, specifically look for an insurance that brings you air ambulance evacuation.
You’re Better off with Additional Air Ambulance Coverage
There are specific air ambulance coverage plans available to you today. While the maximum that insurance can offer you is air ambulance transfer to the nearest facility in your home country or abroad, you can get a better deal than this through additional cover.
There are air ambulance plans today that promise to bring you back to a medical facility that is close to your home. Some even offer to transport you to a facility of your choice. If you’re thinking that the whole affair is going to be expensive, think again. There are plans that cover you both domestically and internationally for a few hundred dollars each year. All you need to do is look for a plan that suits you best.
Imagine being able to utilize air ambulance services, not just to the “nearest appropriate medical facility” but to a facility near your own home. Wouldn’t that be something that would make you really comfortable? Most insurance companies do not offer you such privileges but there is hope, especially when community members are able to come together to increase their bargaining capacity. When a community sits across the table to do business with air ambulance coverage providers, the sheer number of community members increases the bargaining capacity. For the service providers this translates into huge business and for you cheaper and more efficient air ambulance coverage.
Looking at Air Ambulance Industry Statistics
We have already mentioned earlier that more than 550,000 patients make use of air ambulance services each year in the United States. These patients have to shell out anywhere between $12,000 and $25,000 for their air ambulance transport (considering the national average of 52 miles per flight). If the requirement for air ambulance is to fly overseas the amount can go well into six figures.
We have already seen that most insurance companies shy away from covering the charges entirely. Also, most of them simply do not cover overseas air ambulance travel.
Air Ambulance Membership Programs and Community Associations
There are several air ambulance membership programs available throughout the United States today. These programs allow medical care seekers to fly via air ambulance services during emergencies to the hospital of their choice. The cost of such membership is not usually high. Also, if a community association ties up with such a service provider, the cost of membership goes down even further. In the wake of rising air ambulance costs throughout the country, such an arrangement is the best option to avoid getting tangled in high air ambulance costs.
It must also be noted that choosing or refusing air ambulance services is not in the hands of the patients during emergencies. It is a call taken by the medical professionals on the scene.
Air ambulance services are the only option most of the time when a patient suffers a severe heart attack, stroke or any other medical eventuality. The sad part is that, during such times, most patients are neither in a position to deny air ambulance services nor choose one on their own. For this reason, the Nebraska Department of Insurance has come up with certain guidelines to keep the patients away from financial shocks.
How Much Does Air Ambulance Typically Cost?
The numbers can run anywhere from $12,000 to $25,000 per flight and these numbers only cover domestic flights. If the requirement of air ambulance is to fly overseas, the price can go well over $100,000. The Association of Air Medical Services says that over 550,000 patients make use of air medical evacuation each year. A sizeable part of this population later faces problem when it comes to payment of the bills as insurance companies refuse to cover the entire charge.
Understanding Air Ambulance Insurance
Insurance companies will only pay the bills when they deem the use of air ambulance absolutely necessary for the patient’s survival. There are times when insurance companies refuse to foot the bill or part of it.
When it comes to Medicare, it only pays if it determines that the necessity for air ambulance is immediate and that ground ambulance cannot do the job. Also, it only covers the cost to the nearest appropriate medical facility.
What is the Solution?
The first and foremost thing to do is read all the details of your insurance cover thoroughly. In case you need additional cover, purchase it beforehand. Know all the terms and conditions. Here are some of the questions that should bother you:
- Will the insurance cover equipments like oxygen and life support onboard the air ambulance?
- Will the cost of transportation to and from the air ambulance be covered?
- Will the cost of family member accompanying the patient be covered?
- Is there a limit to the distance covered?
- What types of emergencies are covered?
It is important to note here that the only way to keep yourself away from a financial doom is to think about air ambulance when you’re healthy.
RVSM is an abbreviation that stands for Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum. RVSM-approved medical flights must be fitted with certain gadgets such as autopilot and certified altimeter. These medical flights are allowed to fly 29,000 feet above the sea level.
RVSM allows aircrafts to fly maintaining reduced vertical distance between each other; thus, paving way for more medical flights to share airspace simultaneously and safely. While this may seem quite technical for a layman, there are other distinct advantages of flying above 29,000 feet. It brings speed, comfort and safety. Let’s discuss the importance of RVSM, especially with long-distance medical flights.
Safety of Medical Flights and RVSM
Safety is always the primary concern when you choose an air ambulance. Medical flights coursing at lower altitudes are more susceptible to turbulence. Such turbulences can cause unnecessary anxiety in the patient which is not advisable when the condition of the patient is critical or the patient is already anxious about his or her health.
Speed of Medical Flights and RVSM
Time is always of essence when choosing an air ambulance. Medical flights flying at higher altitudes fly quicker and burn lesser fuel. This means that the air ambulance does not have to stop frequently for fueling. Circling the airport, landing, fueling and resuming flight can be quite time consuming and RVSM approved medical flights avoid/ reduce such hassles greatly.
Comfort of Medical Flights and RVSM
The reduced chances of turbulence, when flying at higher altitudes, make travel comfortable for the patient. The difference in comfort level is not too great but for a patient who has a fragile health condition, the small difference can mean a lot. There is also the peace of mind that comes along when you know that the aircraft carrying you will take lesser time.
Cost is always a consideration when choosing medical flights. The fact that a RVSM approved aircraft burns less fuel could translate into lesser costs for you.
Medical flight services are often called when there is an emergency, and time can be a critical factor and mean the difference between survival and death of your loved ones. Here, we discuss a few things you can do to ensure that medical air transportation is not delayed because of you.
Do you have Preferences when it comes to Medical Flight Services?
If your insurance has a tie-up with a particular provider or if you have membership with a particular medical flight services organization, make it known the moment the need for air ambulance arises. Letting it know later can mean unnecessary delays and rescheduling.
Deciding who will Accompany the Patient
Many a times, only one family member is allowed to accompany the patient while availing the medical flight services. Do not let emotions guide this decision. A person who is emotionally stable considering the circumstances is the right one. Just because you love the person most, you might not be the best person to accompany the patient.
The Belongings that Medical Flight Services will Carry
Keep in mind that the belongings can be transported through other means of transport. Medical flight services usually have a huge limitation when it comes to space. So, carry only such belongings that are very important. Don’t waste time deciding on what to carry.
Don’t Save Your Questions about Medical Flight Services to the End
Pick up the phone and call up the medical flight services to clarify any doubts as soon as they arise. Most air ambulance companies will dedicate personnel to interact with you while coordinating the services at the same time.
Keep in Mind that You can Only Provide Moral Support
It is natural for you to feel “responsible,” but when it comes to medical flight services, all you can do is provide moral support to the patient. Everything ranging from the decision to call for air ambulance services to the receiving hospital is decided by qualified professionals. You imposing yourself could result in insurance carriers denying coverage.
Megan Gilbreath was a resident of Abilene, Texas. She was an 18-year-old student who was involved in a motor vehicle accident involving her pickup. She had a rollover accident where she sustained a head injury and a broken leg. A medical flight was quick to respond and she was all set to be transported to the nearest medical facility.
However, one major error was committed. The EMT that belonged to the medical flight service had intubated her wrongly. The tube that was supposed to carry oxygen was inserted into the esophagus instead of her windpipe. As a result she was declared brain dead by the time the medical flight took her to the treating facility. All the while oxygen was being pumped to her stomach instead of her lungs.
Are You Safe on a Medical Flight with Mere FAA Regulations?
It must be noted that FAA is a regulating body for flights of all types and not just medical flights. This means the medical flight service providers don’t really have regulations that govern them when it comes to ensuring adequate medical care on the flight. FAA only has the say when it comes to medical flight safety when flying. It concerns itself with issues such as crew safety in bad weather conditions and medical flight during bad visibility at night.
Who Regulates the Medical Flight when it Comes to Standard of Care?
The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 that paved way for using air ambulances during medical emergencies had one major flaw. It exempted the medical flight service providers when it came to “routes, prices, and services.” This loophole allows the medical flight service providers to have their own standards when it comes to services.
This however does not mean that all air ambulance service providers cut costs when it comes to standard of care. Most medical flight operators maintain high standards of medical care. However, in the highly competitive air ambulance sector, it is possible that there are medical flight service providers who cut corners through not-so-well trained or inadequately trained medical staff.
The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 does have a provision where the states can regulate the medical aspect of air ambulances; the only condition is that such regulation should not impact the economics of operating a medical flight “significantly.” In essence, there is scope and hope for regulations in this regard.