The United States of America is among the countries which have the highest vaccination rates in the whole world. However, the vaccination rate is not uniform across the country. As a result, many parts of the country are now witnessing unprecedented Coronavirus positivity. Much of the surge is being attributed to the delta variant of the virus. Air ambulances are increasingly being sought to ferry patients across hospitals and cities in search of appropriate beds today. The healthcare systems are being overwhelmed by the number of people seeking hospitalizations in states like Kansas.
Air Ambulances Catering to Emergencies
There is no dearth of vaccinations in the United States, but many people have refused to get vaccinated or delayed vaccinations. Although vaccinations are not a guarantee against contracting the virus, they are known to mellow down the severity of the infection. However, it takes quite a few days for the effect of the vaccine to kick in. In the meantime, people are getting infected in huge numbers. Those who have not got even got a single dose of vaccine are now finding it hard to get ICU beds and air ambulances are taking such patients to appropriate facilities in far off places.
Air Ambulances Today are Better Equipped
The Coronavirus has dominated the world for quite some time now, and the safety and insulation protocols against the virus have evolved. However, it still necessitates wearing personal protective equipment, which can be quite limiting and physically exhausting. The personnel who take care of the COVID patients in the air ambulances must wear these too. Added to that is the heat that the ground crews of the air ambulances must bear. The hope is that people will be more open to vaccinations and the pandemic can be brought under control soon. Until such time, the crew members of air ambulances will continue to discharge their duties against all odds.
Air ambulances are helping patients to get appropriate care in a short amount of time today. The pandemic has subsided to a huge extent as several developing and developed nations have aggressively vaccinated their citizens. With this change in dynamic, people today are venturing out more and it is business as usual in most places. At the same time, the crime rate across the nations has increased significantly. The rural United States is not immune to this problem. While some of the stabbings and shootings are related to robberies, the rest are related to crimes of passion. Whatever the reason, the rural counties fall short when it comes to providing care in time.
Air Ambulances Fill the Gap
Several rural hospitals have shut down over the last decade in the rural United States. This has meant that people need to travel greater distances for good medical care. Air ambulances are bridging this need by reducing the travel time to hospitals. At times, air ambulances can cut this time into one-fourth of what it takes if one takes road transport. Research has found that taking patients to hospitals on time facilitates better treatment outcomes. The reasons range from availing of sophisticated medical equipment quicker to reducing blood loss which can often be fatal.
Stroke Victims also Need Quicker Treatment
The same goes for patients who suffer strokes. Research has found that people who suffer strokes survive and recover faster when they get the treatment within the first hour. Air ambulances can facilitate this through their quick responses and reduced travel time. Moreover, most medical flights are equipped with all the tools and expertise that are necessary to provide the initial care for such patients. Today, air ambulances even carry portable defibrillators and blood transfusion facilities. While the cost of medical flights can be steep sometimes, there is no doubt that they bring the money’s worth to the table.
Wearable technology can play a vital role in streamlining emergency services, especially when it comes to air ambulances. Imagine this situation: John is out on a mountaineering expedition with a small group of adventurers. Unfortunately for him, there is an avalanche and he is stuck neck deep under the snow. Injured, he is unable to move. The only thing that’s keeping him alive is the hope that air ambulances get to him soon, but he is not even in a position to make a call. Yet, it only takes 15 minutes for an air ambulance to be dispatched, and in the next 30, he is on an air ambulance. How was it all possible?
Wearable Devices Can Contact Air Ambulances
It sounds like science fiction that a simple watch or a device that you wear can actually call air ambulances during emergencies and that too without any intervention from you. How can a device so small be so intelligent? The answer: it is a mix of logic and technology. Here’s how it works – the wearable device continuously monitors the person wearing it. His vital signs such as his heart beat, breathing, temperature, etc, are monitored. When there is a drastic drop in any of the signs; for instance, heartbeat, the device requests the person wearing it to intervene. If he does not intervene, the device assumes that the person is in trouble and automatically sends a signal to emergency services for a response.
There is More to Wearable Technology
Let’s go back t John who is stuck under the snow. The biggest challenge facing air ambulances would be his location. Thanks to the device, it provides the precise location coordinates to the first responders. Not just that, it continuously sends across his vital signs so that they can gauge his health condition on an ongoing basis.
What makes the device so intelligent is a combination of sensors programmed to monitor the vital signs and its ability to communicate using mobile and cloud technology.
Several countries around the world have progressed much further than the United States when it comes to drones. Take for instance, the East African Nation, Rwanda. The country has been using drones in lieu of air ambulances to transport medical necessities during emergencies. Of course, these might not be as efficient as air ambulances yet, but the day is not far when drones would be much more useful. Rwanda is a country where roads are far from being ideal and drone technology is seen as a respite. Come to think of it, rural America too can benefit from this concept.
The Prevalence Gap between Air Ambulances and Drones in the US
The US skies are dotted with a lot of airplanes, which of course include air ambulances. The drones on the other hand can be a hindrance. In fact, there have been several instances where drones have proven to be a nuisance for air ambulances and commercial flights. The necessity, therefore, is for a regulation that strikes the right balance. Also, general drone enthusiasts should also proactively show more responsibility. The other area that needs a closer look is innovation in the field of medical drones where they can at least play the part of supplementing efforts of air ambulances.
The Government Encouragement for Medical Drones
The congress, at the present time, is in the process of considering a bipartisan legislature called Drone Backlog Reduction Act. The intent of this legislation is to encourage innovation and ensure safety of medical drones. Once that is achieved, it will become easier to get the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration to use medical drones more extensively. At the current time, the use of drone is also severely limited by the norms laid down by the Federal Aviation Administration. If all goes well, the people will benefit from innovations in medical drones immensely.
It is hard to believe that the future will see more efficient emergency transportation than air ambulances. However, it is true and that future is not very far. The advent of smart vehicles, autonomous driving technology, drones, electric power and the like are transforming emergency transportation today. In the age of patient centricity, the technology that suits the patients’ requirements will rule the industry. While vehicles capable of landing vertically will make a huge difference in treacherous plains, swiftly moving vehicles will be in demand when time is vital. Here, we take a brief look at the different technologies that are making waves today.
Flying Cars and Air Ambulances
Flying cars have been testing human imagination since the 1980s. Their biggest advantage is their ability to take off and land vertically, as well as the fact that they are highly compact. Now, with technology enabling efficient ground support, it will come as no surprise if we see flying cars being used as air ambulances. The other major advantage from the air ambulance service providers’ point of view is the ability to store or park these vehicles without much expense. The current system where they are expected to hire spaces in large hangars can be done away with if flying cars become a reality and can in turn bring down the cost of availing the service too.
Drones and Autonomous Vehicles
A lot of innovation and research has gone into autonomous vehicles and drones. In fact, a combination of these technologies can be quite exciting. Imagine a scenario where an air ambulance company dispatches an autonomous drone capable of handling heavy loads while controlling it remotely. There would not be a need for pilot. This will also make more space for the patient in the compact vehicle, where he or she gets all the life support required.
The technology that guides air ambulances will further improve as artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data and the like progress.
It is a short question that demands an elaborate answer. As the rural hospitals close at a rapid rate, air ambulances are playing a vital role in bringing patients quick access to emergency rooms. It is believed that, currently, a quarter of the population in the United States of America do not have access to medical care within an hour. It is air ambulances that fill this gap. A report reveals that 80 rural hospitals have closed in the past decade and over 700 rural hospitals, it is believed, will be closed in the next 10 years. Air ambulances are turning out to be critical services.
Time is a Factor that Air Ambulances Manage Well
A Federal rule says that air ambulances can traverse between state borders without having to worry about state regulations. This allows for seamless travel across borders without any regulatory hassles. If the states are allowed to regulate the air ambulance industry, it might so happen that traversing these now-free state borders could become lengthy or challenging to say the least.
A statistic says that over 30% of air ambulances cross borders annually. The state laws, if different from each other, might make flying the skies tricky, prompting the air ambulances to fly to another state because the regulations are less tedious. A report by American Stroke Association says that brain juries not getting treatment in time can result in fatality or poor recovery. That alone should be an argument enough in favor of Federal regulation.
It’s All About Reimbursements
The reimbursements rates by insurance companies have remained unchanged for over two decades. This puts a lot of financial stress on air ambulance service industry. Unable to get adequate cost coverage, organizations are compelled to go to the patients. Most disheartening is the fact that the patients who pay for this service are insurance holders but without adequate coverage.
Air ambulance companies across the United States are investing thousands and sometimes millions of dollars on night vision goggles. While a part of this move is a regulatory requirement, they certainly make air ambulance evacuations much safer. They are especially helpful for helicopters that land in rather precarious landing pads. It is believed that air ambulance helicopters answer about 2,000 calls for patient transfers each year, and at least 10 percent of these are emergency calls. The night vision goggles enable the air ambulance service providers to offer wider services.
Not All Emergency Calls are Taken up by Air Ambulance Helicopters
Emergencies, of course, can occur at any time of the day or night; however, air ambulance choppers cannot respond to all of those, owing to pilot and crew safety. The issue of safety crops up mainly during the nights due to poor visibility. Night goggles can make the skies safer for the medical flight crew. One direct consequence of this would be that medical flights would be able to respond to more emergencies during the night. It also becomes easier to spot the victims who are stranded in thinly populated, treacherous areas without any immediate help.
The Connection between Air Ambulance Cost and Night Vision Goggles
A night vision goggle typically costs about 12,000 dollars. When an air ambulance is not in use, it still incurs maintenance charges, which ultimately is borne by the patients who avail the services. Now, think of a scenario where the air ambulance is employed more. This means that the maintenance charge would be divided among more people, making each flight cheaper. The people of United States are currently reeling under high air ambulance costs and a lot is being spoken about it. Considering that the night vision goggles only cost about 12,000 dollars, this could be a welcome addition.
Everything is going digital. It’s easier and more efficient to maintain your patient records digitally than have to drag around hard copies of documentation everywhere you go. So you’re probably considering switching to electronic patient care reports or ePCR’s for your air ambulance crews. Paramedics and doctors for air ambulances will find it much easier to carry around crucial information about their patients in an easily portable system. But there are a few things you need to learn about these systems before you decide to get one for your crew.
The Basics of ePCR Systems
Electronic patient care report systems are documentation software that can run on computers, tablets, and smartphones. It can help you store and retrieve information easily. But it’s important to remember that these systems aren’t mind readers. They can’t pull up information that doesn’t exist. You have to first feed it with raw data, after which you can retrieve useful information from the system.
Important of ePCR Systems for Air Ambulances
An ePC system can make it much easier to record, retrieve, and transfer useful patient info for your air ambulance. For example, when a crew responds to an incident, they can easily look up their systems to see if they already have patient record, medical history, treatment history, etc. If so, they can proceed with medical care and assistance promptly.
If there is no existing medical record, the crew can enter the patient records in their system for their reference and future use. There won’t be any need to dig up hundreds of hard copy records and documents to find the relevant info. Additionally, when handing off a patient from air ambulances, they can easily transfer the record to the receiving medical facilities for proper treatment.
You have a dream of working as a paramedic for air ambulances. Now you’ve completed your certification and have all the necessary qualifications to apply for your first job as one. This may be one of the biggest hurdles you face in your career. Although some basic interview tips apply here like any other job, there are a few additional things you need to do to impress your future employers.
Learn About the Agency
Having an in-depth knowledge about the air ambulance provider you’re interviewing for could be crucial for interview success. Do some background research before the interview and learn about some useful details like the company’s core values, how they raise funds, how many operations they averaged at recently, etc. So you’ll be prepared to answer some agency-related questions if they come up.
Otherwise, you can also use this information to impress the interviewer unexpectedly. For instance, they might ask you why you’re applying for a job with them and not with other air ambulances. You can tell them how your personal values coincide with the company’s core values, so it would be ideal for you to work where your values are respected.
Show your Preparedness to work as a Paramedic for Air Ambulances
Another crucial step for successful interviews is to help your prospective employer in envisioning you in the role. When you walk into the room, make sure you demonstrate the kind of command presence and attentiveness you would on an emergency call. Try your best to hide your nervousness and display confidence. Look your interviewers in the eye and make sure you start off and/or end with a firm handshake.
When answering questions, avoid using fillers and starting off with “umm” or “uhh”. Any sign displaying indecisiveness could hinder your efforts so try taking a few seconds to think about your response instead. These may all seem like small elements, but they can be crucial for helping you bag a job as an air ambulance paramedic.
With the responsibility of providing specialized emergency care to patients, air ambulances need to be staffed with the most competent and professional medical personnel. A typical air ambulance crew comprises of an air ambulance pilot, an in-flight doctor, an in-flight nurse, and a paramedic. The number of people assigned for each task may differ according to the air ambulance company and its needs.
Among the most crucial positions in an air ambulance crew is that of a critical care flight nurse, but not everyone is capable of becoming one. So read on to find out more about becoming a critical care flight nurse and see if you have what it takes to become one.
Basic Requirements to become a Critical Care Flight Nurse for Air Ambulances
Although different organizations and charities have varying requirements and standards for recruiting a critical care flight nurse, most air ambulances have the same basic requirements. You will need to check about the specific requirement set by the company you’re planning to apply at. However, take a look at the basic necessities first and see if you can proceed with your application:
- Licensed nurse with authorization to practice in that state you’re based in
- Experience in critical care or emergency medicine ER (minimum years of experience may differ according to organizations)
- High level of competency and proficiency with patient assessments
- High level of proficiency, expertise, and knowledge in transporting and caring for critically ill patients
- Ability to perform physical activities involved in performing aeromedical transport
- Good problem-solving skills with the ability to combine judgment and experience in coming up with a solution
Possession of current certifications for Advanced Cardiac Life Support Provider and International Basic Trauma Life Support Provider. Some companies may also require that you possess a certification for Advanced Pediatric Life Support Provider