Essential to the success of any organization, is the quality of its employees. Angel MedFlight actively seeks talented individuals who share the same work ethic and passion for exceeding standards that the company was founded on. Finding talent, however, is just the first step in building and maintaining an exceptional team. After initial new-hire orientation, individuals need ongoing, specialized training in two very technical fields: aviation and healthcare.
Angel MedFlight has designed and implemented a world-class training program providing instruction in every department including aviation, aviation maintenance, safety, operations, flight coordination, medical, quality management, legal, claims, human resources, IT and business development. Cross training employees allows employees to experience what it’s like to be in another’s role; for better understanding of how departments must work together for improved overall operations.
Matt Greenwell, RN, CFRN, NREMT-P, FP-C, Angel MedFlight’s Director of Clinical Operations teaches one of the training courses; Flight Physiology. He explains how pressure and altitude affect patients, flight crew and medical crew alike. Pressure affects people differently, an important consideration when transporting critical patients. A patient is going to react differently at sea level than at 40,000 feet.
“It’s very important that the patient’s history and condition area taken into consideration when the flight coordinators plan the flight,” says Greenwell, adding, “Altitude and air density, cabin pressure and the condition of the patient all play a role in coordinating a flight and determining the correct altitude and cabin pressure.” Greenwell teaches all the laws concerning pressure including Boyle’s Law, Charles’ Law, Henry’s Law, Graham’s Law and Fick’s Law. These are all complex theories that will need to be understood in depth. Greenwell stresses the importance of the medical crew and flight crew needing to communicate when it comes to adjusting cabin pressure. Because of their cross training, they’ll all have an understanding of the situation and be able to communicate effectively. This is one of many examples why a cross-training approach coupled with an in-depth curriculum are such integral pieces of an effective training and development program.
Greenwell also includes a training segment outlining the 4 types of hypoxia including hypoxic, hypemic, stagnant and histotoxic and the potential effects on patients and crew. He recalls a time when he had the training opportunity to spend time in an altitude pressure chamber; which simulates an aircraft reaching different altitudes and tests the effects it has on people. He explains that in his experience, it only took about 90 seconds to begin to feel the effects of hypoxia. He said he felt confused and experienced pain in his neck. Hypoxia can affect everyone differently. Personally experiencing a pressure chamber is an excellent way to understand first-hand what the effects can be. Greenwell hopes to incorporate altitude pressure chamber training to the curriculum in the near future.
Chief Pilot Kindle Tannery joins Greenwell to teach a segment that explains all of the 9 stressors that can affect not only the patient during the flight but the crew as well. The stressors are:
- Barometric Pressure
- Decreased Humidity
Together, they explained the importance of the flight crew and medical crew to remain hydrated, eat healthy and the proper amount of rest in between flights so that they are able to perform their job functions to the absolute best of their ability.
It’s necessary for pilots and flight coordinators to learn and understand flight physiology; not just the medical crew. Although flight coordinators remain on the ground, they must be able to effectively communicate this information to patients, families and case managers that they work with to coordinate medical flights.
Angel MedFlight’s training and development is continually evolving in order to remain on the cutting edge of technology. Because air medical transport encompasses both the aviation and healthcare fields, ongoing training and continuing education requirements are important to remaining leaders in the industry. The flight physiology course is just one part of the extensive training curriculum.
Angel MedFlight’s commitment to hiring, training and developing talent is essential to delivering operational excellence on every level.