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.
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
Depending on the seriousness of the illness and the care requirements, a patient may be transported through any form of medical air transport. It could be through an air ambulance, commercial stretcher or medical escort. The point to be noted, however, is that all these forms of medical air transport invariably need the services of a flight nurse. It is one of those air ambulance careers that is seeing a high degree of demand currently and is slated to grow steadily. There is also a sense of adventurism that comes with the job as you are expected to be in the midst of challenging situations.
The Mindset of a Medical Air Transport Nurse
The salaries of air ambulance nurses are pretty high; however, it is also a high-pressure job. Often, flight nurses, especially critical care flight nurses, are expected to take calls that can mean the difference between life and death. Not every medical air transport vehicle carries a doctor on every rescue. So, remaining unflustered in tough situations is a quality that takes the front seat if you want to become a flight nurse. The ability to take calls independently and improvise to make the best of the situation is another welcome trait. It is always an on-call duty. If being available round the clock is too much for you, then this career is not for you.
Qualifications of a Medical Air Transport Critical Care Nurse
The foremost requirement is the license to practice in the state where you’re based. Most medical air transport companies demand an experience of at least 5 years, if you’re targeting critical care. The nurse might be required to attend Aviation Physiology courses once a decade. The course must meet the Department of Transportation specifications. The following certifications are deemed necessary:
- International Basic Trauma Life Support Provider
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support Provider
Most medical air transport companies prefer additional Advanced Pediatric Life Support Provider certification, although this is not compulsory.
Above all, a flight nurse needs to posses compassion and excellent interpersonal skills.
Most of our discussions have always revolved around insurances, scheduling, and other facts pertaining to medical air transport. Here, we veer a bit from our usual discussions and move towards a few fun facts that will also add to the pool of your general knowledge.
First Medical Air Transport Vehicle was actually a Balloon
Yes, you read it right, a balloon! An air balloon was first used in 1866 to rescue stranded sailors of a shipwreck. The rescue finds mention in Jules Verne’s Robur le Conquérant. The name of this medical air transport balloon was Albatross. Some time later, another air ambulance balloon was used to evacuate 160 soldiers from a city under siege in 1870.
The WW-I also Marked the Beginning of Medical Air Transport
Well, something good came out of the War that had left the world in shambles. The French were the first to recognize the importance of medical air transport. They estimated that the mortality rate would fall by 60% if medical air transport was made use of.
The first person to be rescued through a proper aircraft for medical reasons was as Serbian officer during World War I.
The credit of having an organized air ambulance service goes to the Nazi Germany, which in 1936 had a fleet of medical air transport vehicles. They first put it into use during the Spanish Civil War.
The First Civilian Medical Air Transport took Place in 1933
Private air ambulance services had still not come into picture. It was, in fact, the British Air Force that first started helping civilians. It was on May 14, 1933 that a fisherman who suffered a perforated stomach was transported through an air ambulance.
Switzerland caught up after World War II, mainly to aid in rescue missions involving mountains during winter sports.
Looking at these facts, we must feel fortunate knowing that the response time these days has gone down to just about 10 minutes during emergencies.
When we discuss medical air transport, we resign to the fact that it is going to be an expensive affair. Well, if you are one such person, you cannot be blamed. Media today is filled with stories about bankruptcies and bills that run over several thousands – all thanks to medical air transport.
What if we told you a few wise decisions can contain the costs to a large extent? Of course, it is wise to have medical air transport membership cards and insurances that cover you for air evacuation. But if you are caught in a situation where you don’t have the privilege of such facilities, how do you tackle the situation without having to pay a huge amount? Here, we bring you the answer to this pressing question.
Medical Air Transport Low Price Guarantee
Surprised?! Medical air transport industry today is highly competitive and there are service providers out there who bring you a low price guarantee. These providers will either match the price or bring you the services for a lesser price without compromising on the quality.
Medical Air Transport Vehicle
The medical air transport vehicle you choose can determine the costs. For instance, a twin-jet aircraft will cost less than a jet engine aircraft. Turboprops are another low cost option. As a consumer, you have the right to choose the aircraft in order to keep the costs low. Make cost inquiries about these options before you choose one.
Explore Alternatives to Medical Air Transport
Ask the treating physician whether an air medical escort or air medical stretcher service would suffice. Such services can cut the cost by half or even more sometimes. Also, sometimes, you can share a medical flight if another patient is heading in the same direction. This can be another option to cut down the costs.
Most importantly, never hesitate to discuss cost savings with the medical air transport provider that you choose.