Last week, we discussed three common patient statements that should have you concerned. But those are not the only statements that you should be concerned about while you’re serving as a medical flight paramedic. There may be several other statements that sound simple enough but should be taken very seriously so that they don’t result in bigger problems.
When Medical Flight Paramedics Should be Concerned
Here are some more patient statements that you should be wary of and take seriously instead of just dismissing them:
- When a patient doesn’t want to go to a specific hospital – Every now and then you might come across a patient who does not want to be taken to a certain hospital and tells you so. There may be a good reason for this based on their past experiences. In some cases, it may be because they are dissatisfied with the level of care provided.
But in other cases, it may also be because the hospital has records or knowledge of the patient’s medical history, which the patient has been hiding from you. So make sure you ask the reason why they don’t want to go to a specific hospital.
- When a patient is dismissing their problem for a minor one – It’s important to pay close attention when a patient tries to dismiss the pain or problem they’re experiencing as a result of a minor issue. For example, the patient may explain that the discomfort in their chest is probably because of indigestion.
There’s a chance that the patient is in denial and is ignoring the signs of a major health issue. In this instance, it could be a sign of an oncoming heart attack. The patient may be looking to reassure themselves that it’s nothing serious. So it’s important for medical flight paramedics to assess patients more carefully when they’re dismissing their problem for a minor one.
When you’re working as a medical flight paramedic, you might have come across certain statements that make you pay extra attention to the patient. This is likely because you’ve encountered a patient whose condition immediately deteriorated after saying something similar. It may also be because your colleagues have had an experience with such patients.
These experiences may be able to teach you valuable lessons. Even the most subtle phrases and statements could be followed by horrible outcomes.
Statements of Concern for Medical Flight Paramedics
Take a look at some of these patient statements that should get you concerned:
- When a patient has “the worst headache of their life” – When someone is used to getting headaches, they’ll be familiar with the severity and duration of their typical headaches. So when a patient is claiming that their headache is far worse than usual, it’s a cause for concern for paramedics.
Otherwise, it could also be a statement by someone who normally doesn’t have a headache. Even if that’s the case, it could be that they’re experiencing something new and would be a cause for concern for medical flight
- When a patient “feels like they’re going to die” – While there may be instances where someone is being a bit dramatic when they say something like this, it’s always best not to take such statements for granted. Often injured or seriously ill people have some sense that they are going to decompensate, so it’s crucial that you pay attention and take immediate action.
- When a patient’s shoulder is hurting – Pain in the shoulder may be popularly used to describe chest pain and abdominal issues. The pain can be caused by heart conditions or respiratory ailments such as pneumonia and pleurisy. It could also be caused by illness or injury in the liver, gallbladder, spleen, etc.
When you’re working as a paramedic, accurate patient assessment is crucial so you can get them the care they need. But this can prove to be a challenge if the patient is deaf or hard of hearing. They may have a hard time understanding what you’re trying to say and may give you inaccurate responses. Find out what you need to do to better assess hard-of-hearing patients as a medical flight paramedic.
Understand the Variations and Changes in Communication Ability
When you’re trying to communicate with hard-of-hearing patients, it’s important to clearly understand that there can be variations in the severity of their hearing condition. There are some people who are unable to hear at all but may be able to speak clearly. At the same time, there are also people who can hear a bit but have difficulty in communicating.
It’s important to understand these variations to adjust your approach accordingly. It’s also crucial to understand how an illness or injury can impact the abilities of hard-of-hearing patients. Even if they’re excellent at lip-reading, the illness or injury may make it more difficult for them to read lips.
What Medical Flight Paramedics can do to Accommodate Hard-Of-Hearing Patients
As a medical flight paramedic, it’s crucial that you adjust the way you speak to patients who are hard of hearing. First of all, it’s important to speak clearly so the patient can understand you. Although you may feel compelled to speak louder or slower, this might not really help at times. You can try slowing down your speed or increasing your volume but with moderation.
Gestures can also help in communicating more effectively with hard-of-hearing patients. This can also work effectively in your communication with patients who have cognitive disabilities or do not speak English. And make the most of facial expressions to convey what you’re saying. For example, you could try raising your eyebrows to indicate a question.
When you’re working as a paramedic – whether it’s for an air ambulance transport or a ground ambulance – you’ll be given a set of uniforms to wear every day. This uniform commands some level of respect but at the same time, you need to maintain it properly and keep it clean so as to ensure that you continue to look professional. But this can be tricky considering your demanding work environment and all the elements that could dirty up your uniform.
So if it’s challenging to prevent dust, dirt, and fluids from patients to mess up your uniform, the only thing you can do is to clean up efficiently. Some of the elements may be a bit more difficult to clean so in this post you’re going to learn how to effectively clean up different kinds of stains on your uniform.
Removing Common Stains from an Air Ambulance Transport Paramedic’s Uniform
If you’re an air ambulance transport paramedic, here are some of the most common types of stains you might have to get on your uniform and how to remove them:
- Blood stains – Blood stains in uniforms are common especially since you’ll have to deal with plenty of patients who have undergone physical injuries after an accident. You need to start cleaning up the stain as soon as possible after you get off duty instead of letting it wait with your pile of dirty laundry. Try to blot the stain using a wet cloth or sponge before you wash the entire uniform. You can also soak the stained part in white vinegar for about 10 minutes before you wash it.
- Vomit stains – Rinse the stain with cold water after you’ve removed as much vomit as possible. You can then soak the stain in a mixture of warm water and half a teaspoon of liquid detergent to which you add a tablespoon of ammonia.
- Sweat stains – Sweat stains can ruin your uniform as they can turn yellow if left unwashed for too long. To clean it up, wash it with water and a cup of vinegar. After that, mix half a cup of baking soda, one tablespoon of salt, and one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to the water.
The job of air ambulance paramedics is highly demanding, often involving lifting patients safely and carefully. As a result of this physically demanding job, many paramedics may be at risk of on-the-job injuries. And these injuries can render them unable to work more efficiently, which could negatively impact your productivity. So if you’re an air ambulance service provider that wants to enhance operations and productivity, it’s crucial that you try to prevent workplace injuries as best as possible.
Air Ambulance Paramedics and Injuries
Many on-the-job injuries suffered by air ambulance paramedics occur while they’re lifting or moving their patients. Although paramedics receive sufficient training, some situations and conditions may make it more difficult (and even potentially dangerous) to lift and move patients. For example, the patient may be on the heavier side or the paramedic may not have sufficient bodily strength to lift the patient efficiently.
Additionally, the equipment used for lifting and moving patients can play a huge role in the safety of air ambulance paramedics. In the first two cases mentioned, air ambulance service providers have limited capabilities to control what happens. But you can make sure to provide your paramedics with high-end equipment that will make patient lifting and moving easier and safer.
Lifting and Moving Equipment for Air Ambulance Service Providers
If you want to maintain the safety of your paramedics, you might want to consider investing in the following types of equipment for lifting and moving patients:
- Power loading systems that can do all the heavy lifting and eliminate a major cause of air ambulance paramedic injuries
- Powered cots such as those that use a hydraulic system to make lifting and moving patients easier
- Enhanced stair chairs that make it easier for paramedics to guide patients down the stairs without having to lift them.
Being a paramedic is a physically demanding job especially if you work for an air ambulance. You’ll have to regularly lift and move patients every time you respond to a call. And as a result of this, you’re at high risk of getting injured during this lifting and moving process. So as a medical flight paramedic, you need to take some helpful measures that will prevent these injuries and ensure you efficiently carry out your duties without any issues.
Preparing Your Body to Carry Out Your Medical Flight Paramedic Duties
As mentioned earlier, being a medical flight paramedic is a physically demanding job and involved plenty of activity and heavy lifting. At times, you may even have to perform some strenuous physical activity right after a state of rest. And as a result of this quick transition, your body may become strained and more susceptible to injuries.
That’s why you need to get involved in as many warm-up activities as possible before you respond to a call. You can start warming up at the start of your shift so you’re prepared to take on any physically-demanding task that comes your way. 20-30 minutes of warm-up would be perfect to get your body acquainted to the possible strain it needs to endure for the rest of your shift.
And you should also consider warming up after you’ve been inactive for a while. You can perform static stretching and simple cardiovascular exercises for your warm-up sessions. You can also use tennis balls and foam rollers to help stretch your stiff muscles and prepare it for strenuous physical activities.
In addition to this, you should regularly train to lift heavy objects. This will prepare your body to handle the task of lifting and moving patients of all sizes.
In between patients who’ve been in a serious accident and terminally ill patients who need hospital-to-hospital transportation, medical flight paramedics may occasionally encounter patients who complain of feeling weak and generally ill. While it may be difficult to pinpoint what the issue might be in such cases, it’s important to take thorough assessments to ensure the condition isn’t caused by a life-threatening disease.
Possible Causes of General Illness Medical Flight Paramedics should Look Out for
If you respond to a patient who complains of feeling lethargic in general, try to assess them for the following conditions:
- Sepsis – Sepsis is caused by an infection and can lead to a significant dysfunction of the organs. But when you’re a first responder, you might face some issues as sepsis assessment usually requires lab results.
In a pre-hospital setting, you can still make some assessments that will rule out sepsis. There are three elements you need to look out for and if at least two of them are positive you need to consider that the patient is suffering from sepsis.
These elements are: If the respiratory rate is more than or equal to 22/min, if they have altered mentation with GCS less than or equal to 13, and/or if their systolic blood pressure is less than or equal to 100 mm Hg.
- Systemic inflammatory response syndrome – Medical flight paramedics should also make assessments for SIRS, which fairly easier for them to do than with sepsis. In this case you will look at a few criteria, out of which the patient might have SIRS if at least two of them are true.
The criteria are: if the heart rate is more than 90/min, if the respiratory rate is more than 20/min, if the white cell count is more than 12,000/mm³, if their temperature is higher than 38 degrees Celsius or less than 36 degrees Celsius, and/or if their PaCO2 is less than 32 mm Hg.
Accurately measuring the vitals of your patients is crucial when you’re working as a medical flight paramedic, an EMT, a nurse, or any medical professional for the matter. That means you’ll need to properly monitor and record the patient’s blood pressure. While it may be fairly easy for you, it’s important to remember that there are certain factors that could result in wrong BP readings.
Factors that Often Mislead Medical Flight Paramedics
By understand what could impact the BP reading on your equipment, you will be able to take precautions and make more accurate readings. Here are some of the reasons why your BP monitor could give you inaccurate readings:
- Incorrectly-sized cuffs – If the BP cuff on the monitor is too large, you’ll get readings that are much lower than the actual rate. And in case the cuff is too small, the BP readings will be a lot higher than the correct rate. Make sure the bladder length is 80% and width is 40% of the arm circumference.
- Incorrect positioning of patient’s body – How the patient’s body is positioned will also have a huge impact on the accuracy of your reading. Eliminate any influence of gravity to make sure you get a more accurate reading. The arm or leg you’re using for the reading should be placed at mid-heart level.
In addition to this, you need to make sure the patient isn’t talking while you’re taking the reading. And it would be ideal if you could take the reading when the patient is sitting with their legs uncrossed. In case of unconscious patients, taking a reading may be a bit more challenging for medical flight paramedics. But you can still follow the rules of proper positioning and correct cuff sizes to take accurate BP measurement.
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.