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
Even the most experienced healthcare professionals can find airway management quite challenging. While it’s a fundamental skill for all EMS professionals, it’s an extremely daunting task that requires precision, skill, and expertise. As medical air transport providers, you may also come across patients who need airway management and depend on your competence for their future.
Important Tips for Medical Air Transport Providers in Airway Management
When providing medical care to patients who need airway management, make use of the following tips to help make your job easier:
- Remember the good airway management hallmarks – oxygenate, ventilate, and protect the airway. You will be attempting to accomplish two physiological tasks that are equally important. For proper oxygenation and ventilation, you need to ensure that the airway is clear from blood or secretions.
- Don’t forget to conduct a thorough assessment and remain vigilant for any early signs of respiratory issues. Measure airway patency by determining the patient’s level of consciousness. Ideally, you will need to be more aggressive with patients that have a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) that is lower than 8.Your assessment should include measuring the adequacy of the patient’s breathing, whether it’s too fast or too slow, whether their breathing is shallow or deep, etc. Try to listen for abnormal sounds like snoring, grunting, stridor, or wheezing. All of these factors can have a huge impact on the success or failure of your airway management efforts when providing medical air transport.
- As someone who provides medical care, you need to master the use of whatever equipment you need. Your equipment usage should be true to the principles of airway management mentioned in point #1. Ensure that your suction devices, BVMS, and oral and nasal airways are working properly and of the right size for the patient.
More than 450,000 people in the United States require medical treatment for burns every year. Since burns are so common, it’s likely that air ambulance specialists will come across at least one burn victim. How you initially asses and treat the patient can have a huge impact on their outcome, meaning that you need to keep yourself updated on the latest norms and trends in the treatment process.
Different Types of Burns Air Ambulance Specialists May Encounter
While all burns cause damage to the skin and the underlying tissue, not all burns are the same. Different types of burns can influence the treatment decision you need to take:
In addition to these, you may come across people with electrical burns. The severity of this type of burns may be difficult to determine as they may cause internal injuries despite showing minimal evidence on the surface of the skin.
Patients in critical condition require extensive care. This makes it crucial for providers of critical care medical air transport to maintain efficiency and compassion in administering care. You can find air ambulance operators who provide specialized medical transportation services for such patients. The flights are fully-equipped with the latest medical tools for providing intensive care. The patients are also overseen by top-notch medical care providers from critical care nurses to in-flight doctors.
Comprehensive Care for Critical care Patients
Operators providing air ambulance critical care transport aim to provide the highest level of care to trauma patients. So they offer comprehensive care that isn’t just limited to transporting the patient to a hospital. They assign flight coordinators who make arrangements to provide the following services:
- They aim to guarantee a smooth transfer from departure facility to destination facility. This will include obtaining medical reports and providing them to the receiving facility efficiently.
- They make arrangements for ground ambulance service that will ensure optimum care in transportation between the medical facilities and the airport.
- They assign an appropriate medical team for all medical air transport flights to ensure that each patient receives the right level of medical care. The composition of the team is tailored according to the needs and condition of the patient.
- They even provide regular updates to family members and other necessary parties throughout the medical transfer.
Complete Equipment for Critical Care Medical Air Transport
Critical air ambulance aircrafts require a higher level of equipment than regular air ambulance aircrafts. So critical care aircrafts have to be equipped with the following:
- Full mechanical ventilation including high-frequency oscillation ventilation and nitric oxide (NFOV)
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
- Ventricular assist devices
- Diagnostic imaging
- Intra aortic balloon pump
- Temporary pacemaker
- Neonatal isolette transport
- Point-of-care lab analysis capabilities
- Invasive line insertion and monitoring