In the previous post, we talked about some of the essentials for air ambulance service providers to ensure better pediatric emergency care. The post talked about understanding the common types of pediatric calls and providing evidence-based guidelines to your crew. But there’s much more to it than that. This post will continue with a few more useful tips that you can use to improve your pediatric air ambulance care.
Consult a Pediatric Specialist
The best way to learn about pediatric medical care is through someone who specializes in the field. It would be wise to get in touch with the children’s hospital in your region and see if their pediatric specialists would be willing to be a part of the medical direction system at your air ambulance service. If not, at least try to get them to review the protocols you have in place for pediatric emergency medical care and transport.
Get Specialized Air Ambulance Service Equipment for Pediatric Patients
Your air ambulance crew will also require specialized tools and equipment available so they can carry out emergency pediatric medical care per the protocols you have in place. Prioritize on equipping your aircraft with a tool that will help your crew in estimating the patient’s weight and determining the right drug dosage. You should have a drug quick-reference guide for pediatric patients, which your team can refer to when administering medications for pain, respiratory issues, or seizure.
It’s also recommended that you have a Wong-Baker Faces Scale that will help your crew in assessing the level of pain a pediatric patient is in when treating one for pain or traumatic injury. This is essential because many children have a hard time using the standard pain scale of zero to ten.
When you’re a provider of air ambulance service, there may come a time when you get a call involving a pediatric patient. Although to some people this may seem like any other emergency call, it’s important to remember how complicated it can be to provide pediatric care. This post will help you gain some ideas on how to provide better care to pediatric patients.
Understand the Common Pediatric Call Types
One of the first steps to prepare yourself for better pediatric care is to identify the common types of calls you should be expecting. Most complaints involving younger children are related to seizures and respiratory distress. In adolescents and older children, you should expect to see a lot of calls related to traumatic injury along with psychiatric or behavioural complaints.
However, you should do a thorough audit of the kind of calls you get at your air ambulance service. This will help you gain a better understanding of the most common types of pediatric emergency calls specific to your agency. You can then train your crew to always be prepared for such kind of calls.
Provide Your Air Ambulance Service Crew with Evidence-Based Guidelines
Once you’re familiar with the common pediatric call types, you should look to secure offline medical direction that has been developed using protocols based on the current standards in pediatric care. You need to look for evidence-based guidelines that have been published recently and use them to provide guidance to your air ambulance crew.
There’s a pediatric seizure management guideline already available. You can also make the most of the pain control guideline for traumatic injuries. And you should soon expect to see a respiratory distress guideline that you can use for providing better pediatric air ambulance care.
You may have invested in the best EMS software available in the market to maintain your patient records. However, that doesn’t guarantee that your air ambulance service will maintain flawless patient care records. There are several steps that managers need to take that will ensure that your team maintains better data using the equipment and resources you have.
Prioritizing on Training New Air Ambulance Service Hires
When orienting new employees to the service, make sure you include a course that thoroughly covers writing patient care reporting. You should train them on how to input data accurately and pertinently in addition to teaching them how to use your PCR software.
But that’s not enough. Your employees should have a clear understanding of why it’s important to maintain accurate and complete patient care reports. So you should include a few sessions that will help them understand how the quality of their data collection procedure also affects your air ambulance service.
Have Regular Audits throughout the Organization
It’s also crucial that you try to have regular audits throughout your organization to ensure that your employees are complying with your rules and requirements. You should thoroughly go through the patient reports created by each of your employees every few months. And make sure you try to see their reports from different months to ensure that they are being consistent with the quality.
Regular audits of your patient care reports will also help you identify scopes for improving your current process. For example, maybe you have noticed that the report only has the name of the person entering the report. And you think that it would be better to record which of your employees were tending to the patient. So you’ve decided that you should change the report in such a way that everyone’s name is listed.
You have seen all the inspirational work done by air ambulance crews. Maybe they helped save the life of someone close to you. Or maybe you’ve read about them and their work warms your heart. Whatever the case may be, you feel compelled to work for an air ambulance service. So you decide that you will become an air ambulance paramedic. But first you will need to complete your training pass your NREMT exam.
Best Practices to Prepare for the NREMT Exam
To qualify for an air ambulance service paramedic, you will need to have proper certifications and pass the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) exam. Here are a few best practices to get started:
- First of all, attend your classes regularly and make sure you sit in the front row so you can fully pay attention to lectures.
- If you have any doubts or anything that you need to clarify, don’t hesitate to speak up and ask questions to your teachers.
- Go through the textbook whenever you have the chance.
- Always be prepared with a notebook and a pen or pencil and take notes.
- At the end of the day, review your lesson for the day to make sure you thoroughly processed the information.
- Practice your hands-on skills frequently whenever you can so you’re prepared for real life applications.
Other Tips for Aspiring Air Ambulance Service Paramedics
In addition to these tips, aspiring air ambulance paramedics should also follow these extra tips to improve their chances of success at the NREMT exam:
- Look for seminars organized by the academic support center of your school and see if there are any you can attend to improve your knowledge.
- Look for apps to help you with your studying and organization.
- Take a lot of practice tests so you’re fully prepared to take the actual test.
As an air ambulance service provider, you will have to manage several hardworking employees who have to fulfil a demanding job. So naturally, there might be times when they’re disappointed or angry about certain aspects of your organization or their work life. It’s at times like these that your true capability as a service provider is tested.
Listen Carefully to Your Air Ambulance Service Employees
The first thing you have to do when dealing with disgruntled employees is to listen to them. Hear them out instead of getting defensive immediately. Their problem may not even be with you but they do expect you to pay attention the difficulties they’re experiencing. Note down what they’re telling you so you can clearly understand the situation before you say anything.
If there are lots of air ambulance service employees complaining all at once, let them know that you’re there to listen but you can only do so if they go one at a time. Avoid questioning them, correcting them, or clarifying yourself. Dedicate your time to hearing them out first before you can even consider a solution.
Ideally, you should have two people handling the complaints – one to interact with the employees and another to note everything down. The person interacting with the disgruntled employees can also make a note of what everyone’s saying on a whiteboard to keep track of the discussion.
Come up with a Quick Solution
If you truly want to prevent the situation from escalating, try to come up with an effective solution quickly. Preferably, you should be able to provide them with a solution within 24 hours to show them that you care about their issues. Some issues may take more than 24 hours to solve. But even if this is the case, give them an estimated timeline so as to maintain transparency.
The job of air ambulance paramedics is highly demanding, often involving lifting patients safely and carefully. As a result of this physically demanding job, many paramedics may be at risk of on-the-job injuries. And these injuries can render them unable to work more efficiently, which could negatively impact your productivity. So if you’re an air ambulance service provider that wants to enhance operations and productivity, it’s crucial that you try to prevent workplace injuries as best as possible.
Air Ambulance Paramedics and Injuries
Many on-the-job injuries suffered by air ambulance paramedics occur while they’re lifting or moving their patients. Although paramedics receive sufficient training, some situations and conditions may make it more difficult (and even potentially dangerous) to lift and move patients. For example, the patient may be on the heavier side or the paramedic may not have sufficient bodily strength to lift the patient efficiently.
Additionally, the equipment used for lifting and moving patients can play a huge role in the safety of air ambulance paramedics. In the first two cases mentioned, air ambulance service providers have limited capabilities to control what happens. But you can make sure to provide your paramedics with high-end equipment that will make patient lifting and moving easier and safer.
Lifting and Moving Equipment for Air Ambulance Service Providers
If you want to maintain the safety of your paramedics, you might want to consider investing in the following types of equipment for lifting and moving patients:
- Power loading systems that can do all the heavy lifting and eliminate a major cause of air ambulance paramedic injuries
- Powered cots such as those that use a hydraulic system to make lifting and moving patients easier
- Enhanced stair chairs that make it easier for paramedics to guide patients down the stairs without having to lift them.
An associate degree or a certificate with the relevant certification and training is usually enough for a person to qualify as an air ambulance paramedic. And people who do hold this position are highly-trained and professional. They have the expertise and the knowledge required to carry out their duties. But having a higher education is ideal to secure your job as a paramedic for an air ambulance service.
Benefits of Higher Education to Work for an Air Ambulance Service
There are many air ambulance paramedics out there who are perfectly capable of carrying out their duties despite only fulfilling the minimum education requirement. However, a higher education is ideal to better perform your duties because of the following reasons:
- Better comprehension – In your training to become an air ambulance paramedic, you will be covering plenty of text books and course books to help you learn the basics. And when you have a higher degree, there’s a better chance of you understanding what these books are saying. Although most paramedic students will be able to read the books, students who have a low grade level reading skill might find it more challenging to comprehend the study course.
- Better ability to make rational decision – Being a paramedic for an air ambulance service requires rational thinking, which will lead to rational decision making. For this, you need to train your brain to logically work through difficult situations and problems.
Courses in math and accounting can help with this and if you have a higher education, it’s likely that you would have gotten through such courses. So you will be able to easily make accurate drug calculations, time and distance calculations, etc.
- Better ability to handle complexities in paramedicine – A higher education also improves your chances of understanding changes and revolutions in paramedicine. It could help you gain a better understanding of complex pathophysiology, anatomy, and physiology.
When availing any kind of medical service, it’s always a good idea to be armed with some knowledge about the service. Even when it comes to medical transportation via air, there are a number of facts and rules patients should know. That’s why we’re going to give you a brief yet comprehensive guide on some important facts about air ambulance service.
Checklist for air ambulance service
When you’re preparing for medical transportation by air, here are a few things you should not forget:
- It would be of great help to be prepared with most of the basic patient information such as name, height, weight, date of birth, and medical condition. Additionally, you might want to specify details about special requirements such as diet and/or equipment (IV, ventilator, oxygen, etc.).
- Further, it would be helpful if you can provide other specifics like the patients’ ability to sit or whether they would require a wheelchair or stretcher. This will help the medical team in quickly and efficiently providing appropriate assistance.
- There are numerous myths surrounding air ambulance coverage, so it would be wise to read up on the facts about insurance coverage for such services. If the patient has health insurance, arrange for copies of insurance card and recent health and physical from a hospital or discharging facility. Also, keep a copy of the “face sheet” of the said hospital or facility.
- Most medical aircrafts allow only one carry-on suitcase (maximum size 21”) per passenger. If you have any excess baggage beyond this, make sure you communicate with the flight coordinator as the aircraft may not have room to accommodate it.
What about international transfers?
In case of international transfers, when availing air ambulance service, you will need to carry copies of a current non-expired passport, necessary travel documents, and visa for each passenger. For those who don’t have a copy of their passport, you will need to be prepared to provide some personal information. The required information includes full legal name and date of birth along with passport number and expiration date, home address, and place of birth.
While it’s not always easy to arrange for all this in case of emergencies, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. This will ensure that you have a smooth transaction and pleasant experience if you need emergency medical transport service by air.
Imagine being in a situation where your loved one has a serious health condition that necessitates use of an air ambulance service and you are left worrying about the cost of utilizing it. No one would want to be in a situation like this. But what if the air ambulance service that you choose offers to help you with the insurance? Yes, there are air ambulance companies out there that will aid you in getting adequate insurance reimbursements. They even hire qualified personnel for this specific purpose. These experts can even give you an idea whether your claim is likely to be accepted or rejected.
Medical Necessity for Air Ambulance Service
There is no denying that the medical necessity for using air ambulance service needs to be established first. How do you achieve that? Well, frankly speaking, it is not in your hands. The physician treating the patient will determine whether the patient needs air ambulance service or not.
If the treating physician deems the use of air ambulance service a medical necessity, will that mean you will get insurance cover? Well, not always. There is the medical director of the insurance company that comes into picture. It is in the right of the medical director to dispute the claims of medical necessity by the treating doctor. If he or she does so, the insurance cover may be denied. However, if you are in good hands, the air ambulance service may try to pursue the insurance reimbursement until the end.
What if the Efforts of the Air Ambulance Company Fail?
That’s a very unfortunate circumstance but not unheard of. If your insurance provider refuses payment and you do not have an air ambulance membership, you might be asked to pay the amount out of pocket. However, most air ambulance service providers offer discounts in such circumstances. You need to be ready to negotiate hard so that you end up paying the minimum.
The United States of America spends the highest amount of money on healthcare in the world. It was already at $2.9 trillion in 2013, which has only increased since. This is not necessarily a bad thing as patients invariably get excellent medical care throughout the country.
The insurance too, for the most part, covers the expenses well, although it’s a bit long-drawn sometimes. However, air ambulance service coverage has been a bone of contention for sometime with most of the blame going to the air ambulance service provider rather than the insurance companies. Take the instance of air ambulance services in Montana.
Air Ambulance Service in Montana
Montana is mostly comprised of rural areas, so speciality healthcare is not always available close by, necessitating use of air ambulance service for adequate treatment. The air ambulance services are not always covered by insurance companies in full and the reason given is that the service is not “in-network” and only the companies that are in the insurance network are covered.
Bargaining Power of Air Ambulance Service Providers Matters
To get to the core of the problem, one needs to understand the negotiations held between air ambulance service providers and insurance providers. In a place like Montana, there are a few insurance providers; in fact, there are just three. This gives the insurance companies huge bargaining power when fixing an amount that would be given to the air ambulance service provider. Most air ambulance companies are wary of settling for a low price as it doesn’t adequately cover the cost. As a result, they choose to stay out of the network. Insurance companies only cover air ambulance services in full if they are offered by companies “in network.”
Moreover, the patient rarely gets to choose an air ambulance service provider. Last year alone, Montana saw over 3,000 medical flights. There needs to be some consensus between all the insurance providers and air ambulance service providers if the patients are to benefit in the true sense.