If you’re working as a medical flight paramedic, it’s obvious that you would’ve received EMT training and certification. But it’s not enough to simply get certified one time and then completely forget about ever having to take another exam. You’ll have to renew your license every couple of years and for that, you’ll need to pass a recertification exam.
What’s Needed to Renew Your License?
Your original EMT certification expires two years after original date of issue. After this, you will need to undergo a recertification exam for an updated license. But in order to renew your EMT license, you will need to:
- Be affiliated with a certified agency
- Have completed some patient care hours
If you’re currently working for a medical flight company, then you should have no trouble getting recertified.
Exam or Continuing Education to Renew Medical Flight Paramedic License
You have two options to renew your EMT license so you can keep working as an air ambulance paramedic:
- Exam – For this, you just need to apply for a “recertification by exam” in your NREMT account and then schedule your exam as instructed in your Authorization to Test letter. This may seem simple but the problem with this option is that you only have one attempt to take this test and some states may not allow a retest.
- Continuing education – The other option is by continuing education in emergency medicine or a related field. For this, you’ll need to record 72 hours of education units. The best part about this option is that you can improve your skills and knowledge in different types of emergency situations.
These are the two main options for renewing your EMT license. For air ambulance paramedics, you might have a few other certificates that require renewal.
Among the hundreds of patients you care for every year, some of those patients may be elderly individuals with a medical emergency or injury. It would be a mistake to assume that these patients are just like any other patient, as there may be many age-related issues to consider when providing them with pre-hospital care. As a medical flight paramedic, you need to be equipped with the necessary information to care for and safely transport geriatric patients facing a medical emergency or injury.
Caring for and Transporting Elderly Patients in a Medical Flight
Take a look at some of these tips to help you care for and safely transport a geriatric patient:
- Consider age-related changes in bodily functions – As we grow older, the function of the different organs in our body declines. This means there’s a change in the way our body responses to illnesses and injuries. For instance, there is a much lower capacity to compensate for shock, the bones can break much more easily, and the skin can face a more extensive damage from lacerations and burns. Additionally, head injuries can be much more lethal for elderly patients. All of these and more means that even a simple injury or complaint could have a huge impact on geriatric patients.
- Consider medication-related complaints – Many elderly patients may miss their meds or even take them at a wrong dose. Before transporting them on a medical flight, make sure you double-check their medications. In addition to asking them about it, get the prescription bottles and take them with you to provide to the ER. You could even perform a pill count if the dosage is indicated. Make sure you also have sufficient information about the common side effects of certain medications and their interactions with other medications. For instance, a patient taking blood thinners and suffering from a physical injury could be in danger of internal bleeding.
In a previous post, we had discussed some tips to help in writing a detailed patient care report. To add to that, this post will provide you some tips and ideas on how you can avoid vagueness in writing your report. Being descriptive and detailed is crucial in a few major aspects of patient care reporting for medical flight paramedics. This post will guide you in nailing your report for these aspects.
Important Aspects of Patient Care Reporting for Medical Flight Paramedics
When you respond to a call and transport a patient, you need to avoid being vague when writing your report about the following aspects:
- Dispatch info – Cover all details of the dispatch including patients condition at the time of dispatch, whether it’s an internal or external dispatch, whether you’re the first responders or if there are other rescue units on the way, etc.
- Patient’s condition – It’s obvious that you’ll be reporting details like where you picked up the patient and where you transported them to. But in addition to this, you’ll need to have a detailed report about the patient’s condition such as their mobility and consciousness status, whether or not they were able to understand/respond to your queries, when and how their problem stated, how the symptoms have evolved, etc.
- Interventions and procedures – As a medical flight paramedic, you may need to perform some emergency procedures to help the patients you transport. Make sure you provide in detail which treatments, interventions, or procedures you performed on the patient during transportation. And don’t forget to include details about why those procedures were necessary, which assessments you made and what you found from the assessments.
These three main aspects are crucial for better patient care reporting and to avoid vagueness in your report. They will help the receiving medical facility to provide proper medical care to the patient.
When you’re beginning a career as a medical flight paramedic, one of your biggest responsibilities would be writing patient care reports. And your ability to write a good report will play a huge role in the quality of care provided to the patient. In this post, you’ll learn a few basic tips to help you improve the way you handle patient care reporting.
Writing a Detailed Description in Medical Flight Reporting
The most important element in good patient care reports is a detailed description of the incident and patient details. You’ll need to write a detailed report of your assessment of the situation. And you’ll need to note down all the details of how you treated the patient – whether you administered any kind of medication or any special treatment, etc.
As a medical flight paramedic, you would have received training on writing patient care reports. Here are a few tips to help you further improve your descriptions:
- If the patient is experiencing pain, make sure your description includes where exactly the pain is. For instance, if it’s on the leg, which leg and which part of the leg?
- Make sure you include the incident timeline.
- Make a note of your assessment of the pain.
- Include a step-by-step detail of what treatment you administered.
- Try avoiding the use of abbreviations if possible.
The Importance of Grammar and Spelling
It may be difficult to comprehend but spelling and grammar are crucial in patient care reporting. Misspellings and incorrect grammar usage could result in miscommunication. Try to ensure your report clearly states the details of the injury or illness. The idea is to write a report that will ensure the surgeon or doctor caring for the patient understands exactly what is going on.
Frostbite isn’t common and you may never encounter patients suffering from the condition. But preparation is key and it’s crucial that you equip yourself with the necessary knowledge to treat even the most uncommon conditions. For air ambulance transport paramedics, there may be instances where you’re sent off to remote mountain locations. What if you have to rescue someone in those mountains and what if they’re experiencing frostbite?
Caring for Frostbite Patients in Air Ambulance Transport
Take a look at these tips to help you care for a patient experiencing frostbite:
Choosing an appropriate treatment facility – Air ambulance transport services often transport the patient to the closest medical facility. However, if there’s a facility close by specializing in burns, see if it would be a better option to transport the patient there. Some medical centers may not be familiar to treating frostbites and they’ll have to transfer the patient again to a facility that specializes in burn treatment.
After much consideration, you’ve decided to undergo education and training in order to become a medical flight paramedic. And you’d also know by now that you’ll be facing plenty of challenges along the way. Many of those challenges may be minor and you can easily overcome them. But some challenges may get in the way of your training and may even compel you to give up your dreams. So the best thing to do is to prepare yourself to face those challenges and get set to overcome them.
Challenges with Time Management
One of the biggest challenges you will face while training to become a medical flight paramedic is the challenge with time management. You’ll have to attend your classes regularly, which is going to take several hours of your time every day. You’ll also need to set aside some time to study on a daily basis if you’re going to pass your tests. On top of that, you’ll even have to go to clinical rotations, which will take place at various sites.
Now all this is difficult to manage already. It’s going to be even more difficult if you’re doing it all in the midst of a regular job. So it’s already clear that you’ll have to sacrifice your social life while you’re in paramedic school. And make sure you try to postpone big, life-changing decisions such as moving to a new city.
Other Big Challenges in Medical Flight Paramedic Training
In addition to the big time management issue, you might also struggle with drugs and pharmacology. By the time of your internship, you’ll be expected to have a thorough understanding of your medications. Come up with a technique to memorize and understand indications and doses as well as contraindications related to medicine.
Your company is planning to switch to incident management systems so that you can carry out your medical flight operations more efficiently. This is a practical move since technology is practically taking over the medical industry, replacing paper charts and bulky files. Incident management systems can improve the efficiency and productivity of your employees significantly. But even when you are going to make the switch it’s important that you do it right. This would mean investing in the right system that would serve its purpose.
What to Look for in an Incident Management System for Medical Flight Operators
There may be several systems in the market, offering different features and capabilities. But here are some of the most crucial features you need to look for when investing in an incident management system:
- Accuracy in resource tracking and management – You should be able to use the system to easily assign a task or incident to your crew within just a few clicks. The system should also provide you with a summary screen so you can access and track all the incidents in your records.
- Time-tracking features – The system should be equipped with running clocks, through which you can keep track of how much time has passed for an incident. These clocks can help you monitor critical information such as air consumption by the medical flight
- Time stamping for incident logs – This feature enables you to automatically record details of the incident along with an accurate time stamp. Using this feature, you can significantly reduce the time taken to document your activities and compile your daily records. In short, the feature can help you reduce stress by helping you finish your work quickly.
In addition to these three crucial features, you can look for incident management systems with add-on features to meet your requirements.
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 may be surprised to read the headline. Aren’t medical flight crews supposed to provide care and not the other way round? If you’re running an air ambulance operation, caring for the physical and emotional well-being of your in-flight crew is a crucial part of running an effective operation. Because overworked, overstressed, and overtired crew members could potentially risk the safety of their patients and fellow crew members.
Providing Emotional Care to Your Crew
You may already have programs set up for employee assistance and critical stress debriefing. These programs can help in providing essential emotional support to your employees in their hour of need. At the same time, they may not be able to realize when they should sign up for these programs unless you make them mandatory.
These programs are especially necessary when a medical flight paramedic or doctor goes through an unexpected clinical event. Such incidents can put them at risk of becoming “second victims”. Make sure your crew members go through a mandatory emotional support and debriefing program after going through the following:
- First patient death on their watch
- Caring for pediatric patients
- Unexpected death of a patient
- Caring for a patient that they personally know
- Experiencing multiple bad outcomes
Promoting Emotional Health and Support for Medical Flight Crews
As an air ambulance operator, you need to be aware of the fact that your employees will be experiencing high levels of physical and emotional stress. In addition to promoting healthy lifestyle, you should take care to promote emotional support among your employees. Take them through regular training and counseling sessions so as to raise awareness about emotional and mental issues.
This could potentially help them in identifying any problematic behavior in their colleagues. This could then lead to timely intervention. So promoting peer support and early intervention could seriously make an impact on the health and wellness of your employees.
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.