As a medical flight paramedic, you will come across different situations and patients with various conditions. You might even come across patients undergoing a seizure, in which case you will need to carry out immediate and correct intervention to improve the patient outcome. Many seizure patients will even encounter respiratory issues, making the situation even more critical. This post will help you find out some useful facts about seizures and the accompanying respiratory issues.
Assessment Process for Seizure Patients
Seizures often last for only a few minutes and by the time you arrive on scene, the patient might be unconscious or in a postictal phase. But sometimes, seizures may last more than 20 minutes or even recur before the patient becomes conscious again. These cases are life-threatening and are known as status epilepticus.
Medical flight paramedics should carry out the following assessment steps for seizure patients:
- Determine the duration of the seizure and how many seizures they have had
- Determine whether or not the patient had regained consciousness after each seizure
- Try to determine the underlying cause of the seizure – any medical condition, injury, or trauma that could result in it
- Enquire about any complaints the patient had before the seizure
Airway Management Tips for Medical Flight Paramedics
When carrying out airway management for seizure patients, protecting the upper airway is crucial. You will also need to administer high-flow oxygen and ensure proper ventilation. In case a patient is still seizing or positical, you need to use a non-rebreather mask to administer oxygen and set it at 12-15 liters per minute.
Additionally, stopping the seizure is crucial to ensure proper airway management. So if the patient is still actively seizing you might need to consider administering anti-seizure medication because seizures that last more than 5 minutes might not stop unless you intervene.
When you’re working in medical air transport, you would encounter all kinds of patients. There will be times you have to care for and transport pediatric patients. While the experience may be highly rewarding, it can also be extremely challenging. As a result of this, many air ambulance paramedics and EMS providers are at risk of making pediatric treatment errors.
Reasons and Risk Factors of Pediatric Treatment Errors
Due to the delicate nature of their bodies, children are susceptible of getting critically ill in just a matter of seconds. This is where the skill and expertise of the medical air transport paramedic will make a huge difference. Be aware of the following risk factors of errors in pediatric treatment so you can provide better quality of care:
- Insufficient training regarding pediatric patients
- Infrequent hands-on experience dealing with pediatric patients
- High stress levels compelling providers to scoop and run instead of staying and treating pediatric patients
- Lack of appropriate equipment to care for and/or transport children in an air ambulance
Basics in Pediatric Treatment for Medical Air Transport Paramedics
In addition to the above risk factors, be aware of the following basic tips that will help you provide better care to pediatric patients:
- Thoroughly assess pediatric patients to identify less-obvious medical conditions
- Cross check everything before administering medications
- Instead of relying on memory, contact medical control in case you have any queries
- Coordinate with administrators regarding any system flaws or setbacks so as to improve on pediatric patient care
It’ll be important to stay calm and composed no matter how stressed you may feel in the beginning. If you panic, there’s a high risk of making mistakes in patient assessment and medicine administration.
When you’re working as an air ambulance paramedic or doctor, many of the cases you’ll be responding to will include trauma. In assessing trauma patients, it’s important that you thoroughly understand the trauma’s mechanisms and how those mechanisms can affect different body functions and organs. This is especially crucial when you’re working with pediatric patients who need medical air transport.
Pediatric Trauma Patient Assessment Tips in Medical Air Transport
Take a look at some of these tips and make the most of them when you have to care for a kid who has undergone physical trauma:
These basic tips should be able to guide you in the assessment of pediatric trauma patients, which can result in successful patient hand-offs. Look out for the next post to find out more tips on pediatric trauma patient assessment.
As an air ambulance paramedic, your job is to improve the outcome for different medical conditions and injuries. So when it comes to stroke patients, you would be faced with a time-sensitive issue that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. You will need to transport the patient immediately to a facility that is equipped with a CT scanner and other equipment for stroke care. However, you can also make some effort to provide pre-hospital care during the medical flight to further improve the outcome.
Pre-Hospital Stroke Care for Medical Flight Paramedics
When it comes to stroke care, the goal is to help the brain cells survive. So your responsibility involves attending to the ups and downs that may occur during homeostasis. You can prevent serious issues through the medical flight by caring for the issues listed below:
- Hypothermia – Although this may be beneficial for treatment in the future, you need to focus on maintaining normal body temperature for now. Try to prevent hyperthermia by removing any excess clothing and regulating the temperature in the aircraft. You should also prevent shivering, as this can increase body temperature.
- Hypoxia – This decreases the oxygen supply to the brain cells, which calls for supplemental oxygen to ensure normal oxygen saturation.
- Hypoglycemia – This withholds the primary energy source for the brain cells, meaning you will need to replenish the glucose supply without causing hyperglycemia.
- Hypotension – This needs to be controlled through fluid resuscitation so as to ensure that the brain cells get enough oxygen and nutrients for survival. If the patient has normal blood pressure, use a saline lock to make sure it remains that way. In case of hypertension, you will need to follow directions given by the in-flight doctor.
You transport a patient to a hospital but after you leave, the hospital staff is left with vague information about the patient’s medical history and medications as well as allergies and assessment details. So the staff has to track you down to find out more information, resulting in a lot of wasted time and resources. The end result is a delay in providing emergency care in a potentially critical situation despite a quick medial flight. This makes it crucial to successfully carry out your patient hand-offs with all the vital information.
Come up with a Standard Procedure to Compile Hand-Off Report
The patient hand-off period should be considered as the point of contact between providers, where they share crucial information about the patient. Although there may be several differences in the setting and circumstances surrounding this contact point, you can still ensure to standardize how the information is shared.
Medical flight crews and ground ambulance crews alike can make use of the SBAR approach developed by TeamSTEPPS. This approach provides you with a framework to effectively communicate with other medical care providers. It involves providing information about:
- Situation – Let them know exactly what’s going on with the patient
- Background – Let them know about the clinical background and/or context
- Assessment – Let them know about the details of the assessment you have carried out and what you think is the problem based on those reports
- Recommendation – Let them know what you recommend should be the next step in medical care for the patient
Importance of Standardizing Report Procedure for Medical Flight Crews
Having a set framework to compile and communicate your hand-off report helps other medical teams in providing quick and efficient care without wasting much time. They can see to it that the patient gets the right kind of care they need when they need it.
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.
When you’re in the healthcare industry, you’re going to come across hundreds of different cases in your lifetime. This is especially true for medical flight crews who have to deal with emergency cases and patients who have undergone a traumatic experience. At some point of time, you may even come across patients with behavioral emergencies or violent tendencies. It is in such situations that you need to be extra cautious and employ your non-medical skills as well when dealing with such patients.
Dealing with Violent Patients for Medical Flight Crews
When you’re in the medical flight industry, your only focus cannot be on the patients’ safety. You have to think about your safety as well. This might prove to be a challenge when dealing with violent patients or patients displaying behavioral emergencies and hallucinations. Here are a few tips that will make your task easier:
- Make sure the air ambulance aircraft is equipped with soft arm restraints. These restraints will keep the patients in place without harming them. So you can prevent them from pulling out their IV or oxygen or even from taking a swing at you.
- Try to determine the medical reason for the behavior instead of immediately concluding that the patient has a mental illness. For instance, some patients may have had a head injury resulting in them being angry, violent, combative, or anxious. Try to conduct a thorough assessment in order to get to the root of the problem and take necessary action on time.
Try to remain calm despite the situation as your angst can further aggravate the patient. You can try to create a more relaxing environment for the patient by removing any stimuli of negative emotions. For instance, bright lights and loud noises could prove to be a negative trigger for such patients.
You’ve just pulled a long shift and now have to respond to another call. The life of a medical air transport paramedic can be exhausting and many of you may suffer from fatigue every now and then. Prolonged suffering from fatigue can have a serious impact on your health in the long run, making it crucial to take care of the issue before it’s too late.
Preventing Fatigue from Impacting the Lives of Medical Air Transport Paramedics
Since the job calls for it, fatigue is often unpreventable but you can reduce its impacts to a significant extent. This helps you do your job properly and also enables you to prevent the long-term negative effects. Take a look at some of the key steps you can take:
- Staying hydrated – Make sure you maintain proper fluid levels in your body. This ensures that the different body systems continue to function normally and you remain alert for longer.
- Maintaining healthy lifestyle – As a medical air transport paramedic, proper health is crucial for ensuring that you carry out your duties as necessary. So make sure you maintain a healthy lifestyle by staying in shape and minimizing your intake of fat and sugar. This also enables you to be less tired even while you’re suffering from fatigue.
- Avoiding tobacco and caffeine – When you’re feeling fatigued, you may feel compelled to use stimulants like caffeine and tobacco to help you stay alert. Excessively indulging in these substances can have a serious impact on your health in the long run.
Maintaining proper sleep schedules – Abrupt changes in your sleep pattern may disrupt your sleep and even result in sleeplessness. So it’s important to avoid aggravating the symptoms of fatigue by maintaining a proper sleep schedule according to your shift. This means continuing with the schedule even during your days off.
As a US air ambulance paramedic, it’s your duty to prevent the spread of infectious disease to others. You’re dealing with different kinds of patients on a daily basis, some of who may be suffering from a highly infectious disease. Even if you’re doing what you can to avoid catching the illness, you may still be contributing to the transmission of the disease to other people. In fact, influenza, mumps, measles, etc. have been known to be transmitted through unvaccinated health workers. Plus, such infectious diseases may pose a problem to the healthcare professionals themselves.
Tips for US Air Ambulance Paramedics to Handle Infectious Diseases
The steps you’ve learnt years ago to prevent infectious disease transmission may be out of date. With new diseases being discovered, it’s important that you stay updated with the following latest tips that will help you in preventing the transmission of infectious diseases:
- Make sure you regularly use personal protective equipment so that you can minimize the exposure to OPIM and blood.
- Make sure you get your annual vaccinations on time and stay up to date as new transmittable diseases are discovered.
- Make sure you annually go for your 2-step tuberculosis skin test.
- Make sure you use disinfection supplies and processes as recommended by the CDC so as to ensure you kill off even the toughest of microorganisms.
- Come up with a protocol to carry out a routine disinfection of your medical devices and patient care area within the US air ambulance.
- Make sure you maintain the hand hygiene standards and sanitize your hands multiple times throughout the process of care and patient contact.
These are just a few of the steps you need to carry out in order to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. Stay updated with latest regulations and standards from the CDC.
If you are part of an air ambulance crew, it’s likely that you get through some days working overtime and having to respond to multiple calls in a day. While this is all part of the job, it’s important to remember that long shifts and over-exhausted can leave you feeling drained – both physically and mentally. The result will be impaired consciousness, which can prevent you from doing your job properly. This is why US air ambulance paramedics need to ensure that they get proper sleep whenever possible.
Signs US Air Ambulance Paramedics Should Watch Out For
Whether you work for an air ambulance or a ground ambulance, being an EMS provider means there is a high risk of chronic sleep deprivation. Maybe you are secretly proud of yourself for being able to perform well despite lack of sleep. While you may be able to do so for a few days, over time you’re just going to experience impaired consciousness. This can be dangerous for your job, for the lives of your patients, and for yourself.
As a US air ambulance paramedic, here are some signs you should watch out for telling you that you need to get some sleep ASAP:
- Inability to remember the last call you responded to
- Inability to distinguish one patient from the other
- More than normal illegible writing
- Strong smell of coffee and/or Red Bull while urinating
- Impaired ability to read patients’ vital signs
- Impaired ability to distinguish reality from dreams
These are just a few of the more common signs of impaired consciousness among EMS providers. It may be easy to be in denial, making it difficult for you to honestly assess yourself using these signs. Get help from a partner or a fellow crew member that you trust.