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.
Working as a medical flight paramedic can leave you feeling exhausted – both mentally and physically. You work odd hours and may even have to respond to emergency situations at all hours of the day. Plus, working close to critically ill and injured people can take a toll on your emotional wellbeing. The good news is that you can start using yoga to attain better physical and mental health.
Why Yoga is Beneficial for Medical Flight Paramedics
Not sure how exactly yoga can benefit you for your work? Take a look at some of the reasons why yoga is such an excellent choice for paramedics and healthcare providers alike:
- Simplicity – You don’t have to go through complicated procedures to do yoga effectively. Just a few minutes of tactical breath work can improve your nervous system. You can prepare for your next mission just by taking a deep breath and directing it towards your belly.
- Stress relief – Yoga is one of the most effective exercise choices for relieving stress. Certain physical postures are designed to help remove stress from the mind. Just a few minutes of it can help you regain your focus and get rid of all the static.
- Mental stability – In addition to relieving stress, yoga can help you attain a more stable mind. This is crucial when you’re working as a medical flight because you need to have the mental capacity to handle all the pressure and urgency you’re going to experience.
All in all, yoga helps in building a stronger mind and body. It can help you cope better and efficiently fulfill your role as a medical care provider. Your patients need you to be strong for them. They need you to maintain your focus to be able to provide them with crucial medical care during emergencies. So you might want to consider taking up yoga.
As a medical flight paramedic, there’s always a chance that you’ll encounter patients with different kinds of illnesses no matter how rare. One of those diseases is acute flaccid myelitis, which affects the nervous system and is related to polio. This post will give you a fair idea about this illness and how you can determine whether or not patients are afflicted with it.
A Little About Acute Flaccid Myelitis
AFM or acute flaccid myelitis affects the nervous system and is especially concerning for the spinal cord. The disease can be caused by a number of things such as viral infections. Some characteristics of AFM are sudden weakness in the arm or leg, loss of muscle tone, and weaker reflexes. Patients may not necessarily experience numbness but pain in the arm or leg may be present.
AFM can also result in dysfunctional nerves around the head and neck. It can also make swallowing difficult and the eyes droop while the limbs become weak.
How to Detect AFM for Medical Flight Paramedics
The symptoms of AFM are usually similar to the symptoms of certain viral infections such as adenoviruses, poliovirus, West Nile virus, and non-polio enteroviruses. As mentioned earlier, numbness or tingling isn’t a common symptom. But patients may experience pain in the legs or arms.
Medical flight paramedics should also be concerned if a patient has difficulty urinating. In the most severe cases, AFM may also cause respiratory failure. This occurs when the disease affects muscles that help with breathing.
Acute flaccid myelitis is concerning because it mostly affects children as opposed to adults and there is no specific cure for it. Certain interventions based on the case may be recommended by doctors specializing in illnesses of the brain and spinal cord.
Until now, ground ambulance and medical flight paramedics alike did not have a specific guideline to follow when treating patients with syncope. Syncope, otherwise known as fainting, happens when there’s a lack of blood supply and the blood pressure drops to deprive the brain of oxygen. And now the American College of Cardiology has released a guideline to help you understand the best course of action to take when encountering such patients.
What to do When You Encounter a Medical Flight Patient with Syncope
When you respond to a situation in which a patient has fainted, here’s what you need to do:
- It’s crucial that your initial evaluation includes a detailed physical examination and medical history. This will help you identify whether there are any possible underlying conditions that could result in the fainting.
- Fainting usually occurs while standing when there’s a drop in blood pressure, as this reduces oxygen supply to the brain. In most cases, the condition may not be life-threatening. So you should do your best to try and ease the worries of your patients.
- If your medical flight carries a portable ECG, it’s best that you use it during your evaluation. This will help you determine if there’s any abnormality that requires treatment.
- During your evaluation, if you find out that the patient has a serious medical condition that possibly caused the fainting, it’s crucial that they are transported to a hospital immediately. This holds true even if the patient seems to be recovering fine from the fainting.
- You can rule out the need for unnecessary evaluations such as routine lab testing and routine cardiac imaging such as CT scan or MRI unless you suspect the patient has a cardiac issue. There’s also no need for carotid artery or head imaging unless you need to perform a further evaluation.
These are some of the important guidelines to follow when encountering patients with syncope. Watch out for the next post to find out more.
When you’re operating an air ambulance, cleaning and disinfection of the aircraft would be a crucial part of your maintenance process. This decontamination process is essential for protecting both your air ambulance crew and your patients. So you might want to improve how you decontaminate your air ambulance transport vehicles to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Checklist for Decontaminating Air Ambulance Transport Vehicles
Air ambulance decontamination needs to be thorough so as to reduce the risk of infections and diseases. Here are some of the basic steps you need to take:
- Use the right equipment – Decontamination of air ambulance vehicles can be time-consuming and complicated. So you’ll need to use a disinfecting equipment to ensure that the process is done more effectively and efficiently. Before you invest in one, make sure you choose equipment that’s easy to operate so you don’t have to spend more time in training your staff.
You should also consider the cost per use and evaluate the cost of all replacement parts and consumable supplies. It’s crucial that you evaluate various other aspects such as how effectively it eliminates pathogens, how quick the turnaround time is, and whether it has any limitations or shortcomings.
- Promote the use of new PPE – Advise your staff members not to wear the same PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) while decontaminating the air ambulance as they did when they were in contact with the patient. This could re-contaminate the areas they’re trying to clean, resulting in ineffective decontamination.
- Promote the use of fresh cot linens – After every patient, your air ambulance transport crew needs to change the cot linens. And they should do so after the clean the mattress using a disinfectant. This is because the porous material of cloth linen could allow microbes to infect the cot mattress.
In a previous post, we had discussed some tips on how to assess pediatric patients with suspected sepsis. You might have even confirmed your suspicion through the assessment and collection of patient’s medical history. So as a medical flight paramedic, what’s the next step you should take? While you may be compelled to immediately start treating the symptoms, it’s also important that you prioritize certain symptoms over others.
Treating Symptoms of Pediatric Sepsis for Medical Flight Paramedics
If you have a firm belief that your pediatric patient is suffering from sepsis, here are the treatments you should carry out in order of importance:
- Airway management – One of the most important initial treatment steps in sepsis patients is airway management. But it’s crucial that you are aware of the risks of using RSI/med facilitated intubation. This is because pediatric sepsis patients may be at risk of cardiac arrest as a result of induction agents.Breathing difficulty is common in sepsis patients. So your patient might find it difficult to breathe and may even require ventilation. Good ventilation will not only improve oxygenation but also reduce the oxygen demand as the patient will make less effort to breathe. Use CO2 monitoring to ensure proper ventilation.
- Circulation management – Pediatric sepsis patients will require normal saline (0.9% sodium chloride) for treatment. The initial amount you should administer is 20 ml/kg boluses over 5-10 minutes.
- Medications – You might have administered dopamine on previous medical flight patients with sepsis. But those are adults and the treatment is perfectly alright for them. The same isn’t true for pediatric patients. Instead, epinephrine should be administered in case of cold shock and norepinephrine in case of warm shock.
Sepsis is a tricky condition and experts haven’t yet determined the best treatment option. However, these recommendations should be ideal for pediatric sepsis treatment until there are new innovations in the field.
As a medical flight paramedic, you might have encountered a few sepsis patients on your missions. But have you had to deal with kids suffering from this problem? Sepsis treatment is already complicated and can be much more complicated in children. They can easily develop sepsis after developing an infection from a traumatic injury or an illness.
Pediatric Sepsis Assessment Tips for Medical Flight Paramedics
When you encounter a kid suspected of having sepsis, you can make use of the following tips to provide timely and accurate treatment:
- Assess complaints carefully – As you well know, there’s no test or clinical indicator for sepsis. So you need to carefully assess the various symptoms in your young patient to determine whether they’re suffering from the condition.
Fever, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, discharge or pus, foul-smelling urine, and runny nose are some of the common symptoms to look out for. If the patient is shivering, pale, sleepy, and suffering from shortness of breath and extreme discomfort, there’s a chance they have sepsis.
- Determine the patient’s medical history – In most cases, a patient’s medical history may make them more susceptible to sepsis. Try to determine if the patient has gone through anything that might decrease their immunity. For example, immunotherapy and chemotherapy as well as HIV/AIDS and regular steroid use can negatively affect the immune system.
You can also try to determine whether the patient suffers from any comorbidities that might leave them susceptible to infections and cardiovascular collapse. Cancer, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, poor cardiac/respiratory reserves, and liver/splenic dysfunction are some conditions to look out for.
In addition to this, see if the patient has had any recent surgery, traumatic injury, indwelling devices, or organ transplants. Medical flight paramedics should also note that children who depend on mechanical ventilation may also be more susceptible to sepsis.
When you’re working as a medical flight paramedic, chances are that you have a hectic and sometimes unpredictable schedule. There may be times you have to work overtime, fill in for a co-worker, or even work a holiday shift. This makes it extremely difficult for those with children to find good child care options. In this post, you’re going to learn some useful tips to help you manage child care with your schedule.
Child care Options for Medical Flight Paramedics
When you’re a paramedic parent working busy and odd schedules, daycare may not be the most viable child care option for you. Here are some of the other options you could try:
- 24-hour daycare – While most daycare centers have fixed timings, a few 24-hour daycare centers have started opening up, providing parents working unconventional shifts with an excellent option. However, these centers may only be available at select cities and areas.
- Au pairs – Au pairs are fulltime nannies who live with you and are available to care for your kids during odd hours. Usually, their rates are considered per family and not per kids, so you could be saving plenty of money. But not many families are keen on the idea of having a nanny life with them.
- Nannies – If you’re not so keen on having your childcare provider live with you, you could opt to hire a nanny instead. They provide fulltime child care and then they go home after their shift. The main disadvantage of this is that they can be a bit more expensive than other child care options.
In addition to these, you also have the option of working out an agreement with a co-worker. There may be another medical flight paramedic working a different schedule than you and you could take turns watching each others’ kids. Or the two of you could combine your resources to save child care costs.
In a previous post, we had discussed some of the biggest challenges you might face while training to become a medical flight paramedic. But once you become one, what other challenges lie ahead for you? The obvious challenges would be dealing with a multitude of patients with a variety of issues day in and day out. This doesn’t need further elaboration because it’s what you knew when you signed up for the job. Find out some other huge challenges you could face while working as an air ambulance paramedic.
Personal Life Maintenance and Other Challenges for Medical Flight Paramedics
Some of the biggest challenges you will face during your time as an air ambulance paramedic are:
- Maintaining/managing healthy relationships – Working as a paramedic – whether it’s for air or ground ambulances – can take an emotional toll on you. This means you might often lack the ability to satisfy some of the basic emotional needs of your partner. Of course there may be a handful of paramedics who can effortlessly maintain a healthy work-life balance and remain in a healthy relationship. However, you might be in for a nasty surprise if you walk into the job thinking that you will be able to put in the same effort into your relationship as you had done before. You might struggle with missed family events and the occasional broken promise as a result of your hectic and unpredictable schedule. This is where you need to learn to be accepting of your faults and avoid being defensive even if your partner tries to talk it out with you.
- Maintaining a normal routine – Another big challenge for medical flight paramedics is being able to maintain a normal routine. Shift changes and work habits can get in the way of maintaining your routine and you might even find yourself waking up in the middle of the night during week-offs or holidays.
If you’re working as a medical flight paramedic, it’s obvious that you would’ve received EMT training and certification. But it’s not enough to simply get certified one time and then completely forget about ever having to take another exam. You’ll have to renew your license every couple of years and for that, you’ll need to pass a recertification exam.
What’s Needed to Renew Your License?
Your original EMT certification expires two years after original date of issue. After this, you will need to undergo a recertification exam for an updated license. But in order to renew your EMT license, you will need to:
- Be affiliated with a certified agency
- Have completed some patient care hours
If you’re currently working for a medical flight company, then you should have no trouble getting recertified.
Exam or Continuing Education to Renew Medical Flight Paramedic License
You have two options to renew your EMT license so you can keep working as an air ambulance paramedic:
- Exam – For this, you just need to apply for a “recertification by exam” in your NREMT account and then schedule your exam as instructed in your Authorization to Test letter. This may seem simple but the problem with this option is that you only have one attempt to take this test and some states may not allow a retest.
- Continuing education – The other option is by continuing education in emergency medicine or a related field. For this, you’ll need to record 72 hours of education units. The best part about this option is that you can improve your skills and knowledge in different types of emergency situations.
These are the two main options for renewing your EMT license. For air ambulance paramedics, you might have a few other certificates that require renewal.