When you’re working as a paramedic for an air ambulance, you will get a wide variety of medical flight cases. While a majority of the cases may be related to critical accidents, you may even encounter patients who have overdosed on opioids every once in a while. Since these are time-sensitive cases, it’s crucial that you immediately start looking for signs and begin your treatment.
Common Signs of Opioid Overdose
Some of the most common signs that a patient has overdosed on opioids are:
- The patient will have a hard time waking up; they will be extremely sleepy
- The patient might take shallow breaths
- The patient’s lips and fingernails may become bluish
- The patient’s pupils may become extremely small
- The patient’s heart rate may be slow
- The patient’s blood pressure will be low
Since opioids can cause patients to stop breathing, it’s crucial that medical flight paramedics or other first responders also check for the “death rattle” sound. This is normally recognized by an exhaled breath and has a very distinct and labored sound in the throat.
Essential Actions for Medical Flight Paramedics
If you happen to be the first responders to the scene and you’ve determined that the patient is overdosing on opioids, you need to first make the patients gets enough oxygen. In some cases such as when the patient cannot breathe, you will need to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But if they’re breathing make sure you position them in a way that the airway doesn’t get blocked.
And to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, you will need to administer a naloxone injection intravenously. The effects will last for anywhere between 20 and 90 minutes, giving patient some ability to breathe until you can transport them to a hospital for further care.
You underwent extensive training to become an EMS provider. And now you’re working in an air ambulance as part of the medical flight crew. You already know that patient assessment is one of the first and most critical steps you should take before you even begin your treatment. But there’s still a chance you could make mistakes. In this post, you’ll learn some useful tips to help you make more accurate assessments.
Useful Patient Assessment Tips for Medical Flight Paramedics
Here are some simple and critical steps you should take when assessing your patients:
- Make sure the thermometer has the right temperature – Most of the equipment you use in the air ambulance may function perfectly well under any kind of temperature. But in the case of your thermometer, it’s crucial that you check to make sure it has the right temperature. If the thermometer is too cold, you may be unable to read the patient’s temperature accurately.
Ideally, you should be using your thermometer at a temperature between 60-degree and 104-degree F. But there may be times when the temperature inside your medical flight helicopter is much lower than those ideal temperatures. Try to keep the thermometer and other crucial equipment at storage temperature range before using them for patient assessment.
- Avoid using pain scale to compare patients’ pain – The pain scale can be quite subjective. So make sure you avoid using it to compare the pain your patients are suffering. Instead, the pain scale should be use as a basis to determine any changes in the patient’s pain after a certain treatment or movement.
These are two crucial points to consider when assessing your medical flight patients. There may be several other things to consider in addition to these, depending on your role and the equipment you use.
When you’re part of an air ambulance transport crew, experiencing fatigue is next to impossible. In a previous post, we discussed some of the basic methods of reducing the impact of fatigue. While those steps are important, you can also further improve your health if you can prevent fatigue altogether. Although it’s not completely avoidable, there are still several steps you can take to prevent fatigue to a significant extent.
Ideas to Prevent Fatigue for Air Ambulance Transport Crew Members
So how exactly can you prevent fatigue? Although fatigue isn’t preventable at all times, you can still perform some basic steps and prevent it to a significant extent. Here are some ideas to help you out:
The life of paramedic, nurse, doctor, or pilot is hectic especially if you’re working for an air ambulance. You run the risk of fatigue and you may be unable to balance your work and life efficiently. And if you work in shifts, you’re also at risk of developing a disorder known as shift work disorder. This could impair your ability to carry out your medical flight duties efficiently.
Shift Work Disorder Could Pose Threats to Medical Flight Workers
When you’re in the air ambulance industry, your physical and mental health is crucial because you have other people depending on you. So if you suspect that you have developed shift work disorder, it would be wise to seek treatment immediately. Here are some of the common symptoms to help you assess yourself:
- Being sleepy excessively at times when you need to stay awake
- Being unable to fall asleep when you need to or waking up before getting sufficient sleep
- Constantly getting insufficient sleep or being unable to get restful sleep
- Lack of energy
- Lack of concentration
- Irritability and depressive moods
Due to all these issues, you may even face problems maintaining healthy personal relationships – whether it’s with your partner, colleagues, or family members.
Causes of Shift Work Disorder
Shift work disorder, as the name suggests, is common in people who work shifts. And that’s why people who work in a medical flight run a high risk of developing the disorder. Night shifts and rotating shifts as well as early morning shifts can result in shift work disorder.
And due to shift work disorder, you may eventually experience chronic sleep deprivation, which can seriously ruin your health, safety, and productivity. You’ll normally find yourself struggling to stay awake when you need to and restless when you should be asleep.
In a previous post, we talked about some of the specific guidelines you need to follow when treating patients who have fainted. Also known as syncope, fainting is a common occurrence and as a medical flight paramedic, you may encounter a few patients in this situation. In this post, you’ll get more details about the guidelines released by the American College of Cardiology so you can get a thorough understanding of what to do.
More tips on handling medical flight patients with syncope
The previous post talked about the initial steps you need to take when you encounter a patient who has fainted. And those steps can be used by medical flight paramedics. According to the American College of Cardiology, health care professionals can follow the guidelines below when they have to treat a patient who faints:
- Some patients may have fainted because of irregular heartbeats, which can even be life-threatening. To determine whether your patient is facing this issue, doctors can use an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator to regulate the heartbeats.
- For syncope patients who have heart conditions, beta-blockers can be a good option.
- Health care providers should advise fainting patients to restrict their exercise in the future.
- Patients with recurring fainting spells resulting from very low heart rate might require pacemakers. In case of patients with common faints, drugs may be enough to control the situation.
- In case of unexplained fainting, heart rhythm monitoring is a good option to determine whether or not the patient has intermittent heart rhythm issues resulting in fainting.
The American College of Cardiology also advises athletes with fainting issues to visit an experienced health care provider for a heart assessment. These are some of the basic guidelines that can help in providing the right level of care for people who faint.
When you’re a medical care provider, there’s no knowing when your help might suddenly be required even on your off day. And your intervention can make all the difference for someone who needs immediate medical care. That’s why medical flight paramedics, doctors, nurses, and EMS paramedics alike should take it upon themselves to carry individual first aid kits.
What Medical Flight Paramedics Need in a Personal First Aid Kit
Before you prepare your individual first aid kit, you need to be sure about what you should expect out of the kit. Of course you can’t carry around every type of medical equipment that you normally work on. But the kit should contain some basic items that can help you provide care in common emergency situations.
Your personal first aid kit should be easy to carry around inside your bag or pockets. You should be able to access it easily but make sure you keep it protected from the elements. Although there may be several pre-stocked personal first aid kits available at your local pharmacy, it doesn’t hurt to prepare one on your own.
Content Ideas for Personal First Aid Kits
When considering which items to include in the kit, think of what you would normally use to treat minor injuries or aches. Band aids, cotton balls, and over-the-counter pain meds are a few examples. In addition to this, medical flight paramedics can include items like bandages, antibiotic ointments, gauze pads, etc. in their personal first aid kits.
You can customize the contents as needed. Every once in a while, you might even want to revise what you include in the kit. If you hardly need a certain item, for instance, you could switch it out with something else that you normally need but hadn’t included yet.
So your goal is to save lives by becoming a US air ambulance pilot. You might have read our previous guide on becoming an air ambulance pilot, which covered the basics of what you need to do. And you might have noticed that one of the first steps is to get the necessary education for a valid degree in order to become one. In this post, we’ll be covering a bit more detail about getting a degree to become an air ambulance pilot.
Process of Getting a Degree for US air Ambulance Pilots
If you want to become an air ambulance pilot, you don’t necessarily need a college degree. However, you’re going to need specialized training to become one. And you’ll need a valid license and a certain amount of flight hours, which may differ according to the company you’re applying to.
- Attend a flight school – In order to get your helicopter pilot’s license, you need to pass a written and an oral exam under the Federal Aviation Administration. And attending a flight school can prepare you for these tests. Ideally, you should be receiving hands-on training to prepare for the exam. But if your schedule doesn’t permit it, you can also sign up for an online course to prepare for the oral exam.
- Get the necessary licensing – If you’re planning to become a US air ambulance pilot, chances are you’ll be working for a private air ambulance company. So you will need to have a private pilot license in addition to passing the FAA exams. Plus, an air ambulance pilot needs to have a class III medical clearance.
- Receive flight training – Flight hours are also crucial for working as an air ambulance pilot. The time you spend with an instructor will also be counted as part of your flight hours. So it’s crucial that you sign up for a flight training to make sure you log the necessary hours.
Interested in becoming a supervisor for an air ambulance company? You might have spent several years in the air ambulance industry as part of the response team. But now you want to take on a leadership position and become an air ambulance transport supervisor. However, it’s important to know that being a supervisor is just as much challenging as responding to medical emergencies.
Responsibilities of an Air Ambulance Transport Supervisor
The responsibilities and requirements of an air ambulance supervisor may differ according to which air ambulance company you’re working for. Each company may have certain requirements and some supervisors may have it easier than others if they have plenty of other supervisors to assist them in their role. But in general, here are some of the main responsibilities you’ll have to carry out as an air ambulance transport supervisor:
- Manage the work schedules and time offs for various staff members. You’ll need to make sure that you have enough workers at all times while evenly balancing their work hours to ensure they get proper rest.
- Set the performance expectations for all staff members and then evaluate their performances. You’ll need to ensure that each staff member properly carries out their duties and successfully complete the goals set for them.
- Conduct and oversee staff meetings on a daily basis, during which you need to make sure all the valid issues are addressed. And you should try to properly communicate with your team to try and come up with a resolution for each issue.
- Provide assistance in recruitment processes and then providing training to new recruits. You will also need to motivate all the staff members so that each department fulfills their duties efficiently.
In addition to these basic duties, your company might assign some more tasks and responsibilities based on their requirement.
In an earlier post, we talked about how air ambulance workers can achieve better physical and mental health through yoga. Now we’re going to talk about a common problem that many medical flight crew members face – neck pain. When you’re working in an air ambulance, you have to limited space to work in. And you have to sit in a confined space for long periods of time. This is likely to cause neck pain, which can be stressful and unbearable.
Home Remedies for Neck Pain
Severe neck pain usually needs treatment by a medical professional. But in case of mild yet constant neck pain, you can try using some home remedies to relieve it. During the first few days, you’ll need to apply ice on the area affected. And then follow that up with heat application. You can either use a heating pad or a hot compress or even take a hot shower.
Even if you can’t take a few days off from your medical flight duty, try avoiding strenuous activities that could aggravate the symptoms. When you have the chance, try exercising your neck with slow stretches. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers that normally work for you.
Preventing Neck Pain in Medical Flight Workers
Once your neck pain is healed, the best thing to do is to follow methods to prevent the pain from resurfacing. This would include using good posture and frequently changing your position. However, it might be difficult to move around while you’re in an air ambulance. If you have to sit still mid-flight, try doing some neck exercises as mentioned earlier.
In other words, you need to avoid straining your neck muscles too much. You should also try strengthening your muscles through regular exercise.
As a crewmember in an air ambulance, you may face several health issues due to stress or physical strain. Among these issues, back pain is easily one of the most common problem medical flight crewmembers experience. You have to operate in a cramped space for long periods of time with no room or option for proper movement. But the good news is that there are a few ways you can tackle this problem.
Preventing and Reducing Back Pain for Medical Flight Crews
Oftentimes, people in your profession will experience back pain even without any physical injury. But with timely measures, you can reduce the pain and even prevent further issues from occurring. Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Apply ice – It’s common knowledge that ice can help relieve certain types of pain. Ice has no side effects and relieves inflammation at the same time. And you might instinctively use it when you come across patients with those issues. But it’s quite common to forget that this treatment can apply to you as well.
When you experience back pain, try applying ice for somewhere around 10-15 minutes on the area that’s affected. You can also combine this treatment with an over-the-counter pain relief medicine. If the pain doesn’t go away, try reapplying more ice every couple of hours until you feel better.
- Strengthen your muscles – The first tip talks about pain relief. But since you’re in the medical flight industry, you should also prepare yourself for future issues as well. Make an effort to prevent more back pain by strengthening your lower back muscles. Try practicing strength and stability exercises two days a week. Deadlifts and glute bridges are some of the exercises you can try.