Among the hundreds of patients you care for every year, some of those patients may be elderly individuals with a medical emergency or injury. It would be a mistake to assume that these patients are just like any other patient, as there may be many age-related issues to consider when providing them with pre-hospital care. As a medical flight paramedic, you need to be equipped with the necessary information to care for and safely transport geriatric patients facing a medical emergency or injury.
Caring for and Transporting Elderly Patients in a Medical Flight
Take a look at some of these tips to help you care for and safely transport a geriatric patient:
- Consider age-related changes in bodily functions – As we grow older, the function of the different organs in our body declines. This means there’s a change in the way our body responses to illnesses and injuries. For instance, there is a much lower capacity to compensate for shock, the bones can break much more easily, and the skin can face a more extensive damage from lacerations and burns. Additionally, head injuries can be much more lethal for elderly patients. All of these and more means that even a simple injury or complaint could have a huge impact on geriatric patients.
- Consider medication-related complaints – Many elderly patients may miss their meds or even take them at a wrong dose. Before transporting them on a medical flight, make sure you double-check their medications. In addition to asking them about it, get the prescription bottles and take them with you to provide to the ER. You could even perform a pill count if the dosage is indicated. Make sure you also have sufficient information about the common side effects of certain medications and their interactions with other medications. For instance, a patient taking blood thinners and suffering from a physical injury could be in danger of internal bleeding.
In a previous post, we had discussed some tips to help in writing a detailed patient care report. To add to that, this post will provide you some tips and ideas on how you can avoid vagueness in writing your report. Being descriptive and detailed is crucial in a few major aspects of patient care reporting for medical flight paramedics. This post will guide you in nailing your report for these aspects.
Important Aspects of Patient Care Reporting for Medical Flight Paramedics
When you respond to a call and transport a patient, you need to avoid being vague when writing your report about the following aspects:
- Dispatch info – Cover all details of the dispatch including patients condition at the time of dispatch, whether it’s an internal or external dispatch, whether you’re the first responders or if there are other rescue units on the way, etc.
- Patient’s condition – It’s obvious that you’ll be reporting details like where you picked up the patient and where you transported them to. But in addition to this, you’ll need to have a detailed report about the patient’s condition such as their mobility and consciousness status, whether or not they were able to understand/respond to your queries, when and how their problem stated, how the symptoms have evolved, etc.
- Interventions and procedures – As a medical flight paramedic, you may need to perform some emergency procedures to help the patients you transport. Make sure you provide in detail which treatments, interventions, or procedures you performed on the patient during transportation. And don’t forget to include details about why those procedures were necessary, which assessments you made and what you found from the assessments.
These three main aspects are crucial for better patient care reporting and to avoid vagueness in your report. They will help the receiving medical facility to provide proper medical care to the patient.
Frostbite isn’t common and you may never encounter patients suffering from the condition. But preparation is key and it’s crucial that you equip yourself with the necessary knowledge to treat even the most uncommon conditions. For air ambulance transport paramedics, there may be instances where you’re sent off to remote mountain locations. What if you have to rescue someone in those mountains and what if they’re experiencing frostbite?
Caring for Frostbite Patients in Air Ambulance Transport
Take a look at these tips to help you care for a patient experiencing frostbite:
Choosing an appropriate treatment facility – Air ambulance transport services often transport the patient to the closest medical facility. However, if there’s a facility close by specializing in burns, see if it would be a better option to transport the patient there. Some medical centers may not be familiar to treating frostbites and they’ll have to transfer the patient again to a facility that specializes in burn treatment.
After much consideration, you’ve decided to undergo education and training in order to become a medical flight paramedic. And you’d also know by now that you’ll be facing plenty of challenges along the way. Many of those challenges may be minor and you can easily overcome them. But some challenges may get in the way of your training and may even compel you to give up your dreams. So the best thing to do is to prepare yourself to face those challenges and get set to overcome them.
Challenges with Time Management
One of the biggest challenges you will face while training to become a medical flight paramedic is the challenge with time management. You’ll have to attend your classes regularly, which is going to take several hours of your time every day. You’ll also need to set aside some time to study on a daily basis if you’re going to pass your tests. On top of that, you’ll even have to go to clinical rotations, which will take place at various sites.
Now all this is difficult to manage already. It’s going to be even more difficult if you’re doing it all in the midst of a regular job. So it’s already clear that you’ll have to sacrifice your social life while you’re in paramedic school. And make sure you try to postpone big, life-changing decisions such as moving to a new city.
Other Big Challenges in Medical Flight Paramedic Training
In addition to the big time management issue, you might also struggle with drugs and pharmacology. By the time of your internship, you’ll be expected to have a thorough understanding of your medications. Come up with a technique to memorize and understand indications and doses as well as contraindications related to medicine.
An associate degree or a certificate with the relevant certification and training is usually enough for a person to qualify as an air ambulance paramedic. And people who do hold this position are highly-trained and professional. They have the expertise and the knowledge required to carry out their duties. But having a higher education is ideal to secure your job as a paramedic for an air ambulance service.
Benefits of Higher Education to Work for an Air Ambulance Service
There are many air ambulance paramedics out there who are perfectly capable of carrying out their duties despite only fulfilling the minimum education requirement. However, a higher education is ideal to better perform your duties because of the following reasons:
- Better comprehension – In your training to become an air ambulance paramedic, you will be covering plenty of text books and course books to help you learn the basics. And when you have a higher degree, there’s a better chance of you understanding what these books are saying. Although most paramedic students will be able to read the books, students who have a low grade level reading skill might find it more challenging to comprehend the study course.
- Better ability to make rational decision – Being a paramedic for an air ambulance service requires rational thinking, which will lead to rational decision making. For this, you need to train your brain to logically work through difficult situations and problems.
Courses in math and accounting can help with this and if you have a higher education, it’s likely that you would have gotten through such courses. So you will be able to easily make accurate drug calculations, time and distance calculations, etc.
- Better ability to handle complexities in paramedicine – A higher education also improves your chances of understanding changes and revolutions in paramedicine. It could help you gain a better understanding of complex pathophysiology, anatomy, and physiology.
As a medical flight paramedic, you will come across different situations and patients with various conditions. You might even come across patients undergoing a seizure, in which case you will need to carry out immediate and correct intervention to improve the patient outcome. Many seizure patients will even encounter respiratory issues, making the situation even more critical. This post will help you find out some useful facts about seizures and the accompanying respiratory issues.
Assessment Process for Seizure Patients
Seizures often last for only a few minutes and by the time you arrive on scene, the patient might be unconscious or in a postictal phase. But sometimes, seizures may last more than 20 minutes or even recur before the patient becomes conscious again. These cases are life-threatening and are known as status epilepticus.
Medical flight paramedics should carry out the following assessment steps for seizure patients:
- Determine the duration of the seizure and how many seizures they have had
- Determine whether or not the patient had regained consciousness after each seizure
- Try to determine the underlying cause of the seizure – any medical condition, injury, or trauma that could result in it
- Enquire about any complaints the patient had before the seizure
Airway Management Tips for Medical Flight Paramedics
When carrying out airway management for seizure patients, protecting the upper airway is crucial. You will also need to administer high-flow oxygen and ensure proper ventilation. In case a patient is still seizing or positical, you need to use a non-rebreather mask to administer oxygen and set it at 12-15 liters per minute.
Additionally, stopping the seizure is crucial to ensure proper airway management. So if the patient is still actively seizing you might need to consider administering anti-seizure medication because seizures that last more than 5 minutes might not stop unless you intervene.
You’ve just pulled a long shift and now have to respond to another call. The life of a medical air transport paramedic can be exhausting and many of you may suffer from fatigue every now and then. Prolonged suffering from fatigue can have a serious impact on your health in the long run, making it crucial to take care of the issue before it’s too late.
Preventing Fatigue from Impacting the Lives of Medical Air Transport Paramedics
Since the job calls for it, fatigue is often unpreventable but you can reduce its impacts to a significant extent. This helps you do your job properly and also enables you to prevent the long-term negative effects. Take a look at some of the key steps you can take:
- Staying hydrated – Make sure you maintain proper fluid levels in your body. This ensures that the different body systems continue to function normally and you remain alert for longer.
- Maintaining healthy lifestyle – As a medical air transport paramedic, proper health is crucial for ensuring that you carry out your duties as necessary. So make sure you maintain a healthy lifestyle by staying in shape and minimizing your intake of fat and sugar. This also enables you to be less tired even while you’re suffering from fatigue.
- Avoiding tobacco and caffeine – When you’re feeling fatigued, you may feel compelled to use stimulants like caffeine and tobacco to help you stay alert. Excessively indulging in these substances can have a serious impact on your health in the long run.
Maintaining proper sleep schedules – Abrupt changes in your sleep pattern may disrupt your sleep and even result in sleeplessness. So it’s important to avoid aggravating the symptoms of fatigue by maintaining a proper sleep schedule according to your shift. This means continuing with the schedule even during your days off.
In an era where people are trying to promote self-love, you may notice a lot of people talking about how it’s unnecessary to lose weight. But as an air ambulance paramedic, obesity could have a serious impact on your health and safety. It can’t be considered as just a lifestyle issue but also a safety issue when you have to be a part of a medical air transport crew.
Physical Fitness Crucial for Medical Air Transport Jobs
When you’re obese, you generally move slowly and your physical abilities are impaired to a significant extent. You’re much heavier, which means that you’re going to find it difficult to carry your weight around effortlessly. You may even struggle to perform certain tasks that your co-workers can easily finish. It is no surprise that many air ambulance providers may require that their ambulance paramedics are physically fit to qualify for the job. Due to the fact that the job calls for plenty of physical activity and fast response, it’s crucial that you maintain your physical fitness.
Health Effects of Obesity
So you see that the job calls for medical air transport paramedics to remain fit. But even if the job doesn’t call for it, being fit is significantly healthier than being obese. Obesity leaves you more prone to several health problems such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, and diabetes as well as certain types of cancer. People with obesity are also more prone to suffering from back injuries, which can be a burden.
You probably already know all the negative impacts of obesity, but it’s important to keep reminding yourself about them when you’re surrounded by a culture that’s telling you to “love yourself”. Remember that maintaining an unhealthy body weight is an effective way to love yourself so try to get fit for the sake of your health and your job.