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.
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:
Being in the medical flight industry is stressful. And it’s particularly stressful when you’re just starting out as a paramedic in the field. Sure you’ve gone through thorough training and certification but when it comes to dealing with real-life patients, you get cold feet. It’s not because you don’t know what to do but more because you’re afraid of doing something wrong.
Being anxious about treating your patients is only natural. But it gets troubling when your anxiety prevents you from fulfilling your duties. So you’ll need to develop more confidence to provide correct and effective pre-hospital care.
How to Build Confidence as a Medical Flight Paramedic
So how exactly will you build confidence to do your job more effectively? Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Don’t forget the basics – Every medical scenario has a basic set of rules paramedics need to follow when assessing their patients and administering care. In your nervousness you may be prepared for the worst and your mind may be muddled with complicated steps and ideas. But instead of this, you need to focus on remembering the ABCs – the basic steps you should carry out for each scenario.
- Don’t focus on yourself – Of course your first few calls as a medical flight paramedic may make you reconsider your skills and competence. And an inner reflection of this may overwhelm you and only increase your nervousness about carrying out the task at hand. But you need to remember that this isn’t about you but about the patient.
Your focus should be only on the patient and what you can do to help them in each instance. What’s going on with them? What’s the possible reason for this issue? And what can you do to relieve some of the symptoms they’re displaying right now. Once you think of this, your mind will focus on taking action instead of just reflecting on your own abilities.
Your dream is to become an air ambulance paramedic and save lives as best as you can. But the problem is that you just don’t have the time or opportunity to pursue this dream. That’s where online paramedic degree programs enter the picture. If you’re looking for a chance to fulfill your dream of becoming a medical flight paramedic, this could be the answer.
Benefiting From Online Medical Flight Paramedic Programs
When it comes to something as complicated and hands-on as paramedicine, you may be wondering how an online training course will give you the necessary knowledge. But it’s important to know that paramedic training requires both hands-on experience and book learning.
While an online training course may not be able to sufficiently provide hands-on training, it provides you with essential theoretical learning, which makes up a large part of paramedic training. And many online courses may also offer several opportunities for in-field training as well. So for someone who doesn’t have the time to dedicate to a full-time medical flight paramedicine training, online courses are an excellent option.
You can learn through video lectures, reading assignments, and quizzes. You’ll also have full access to training material at any time of the day. So this makes for a flexible learning schedule. Online paramedic training programs are an excellent choice if you have family to look after or previous work commitments that prevent you from taking up an in-class training program.
Schools Providing Online Paramedic Training Programs
If you’re interested to go for an online paramedic training program, you can check out some of the following schools:
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.