Flight nurses are aero-medical nurses who specialise in giving all-inclusive pre-hospital, critical care and hospital care to patients suffering from illnesses or injuries. They also play a part in emergency flight response teams.

An experienced registered nurse will have the opportunity to take up this occupation. These specialised nurses are equipped to deal with highly traumatic situations and critical rescues. They can be found working in hospitals, in the military or in remote areas that have few medical options.

This field is highly competitive field and has many requirements. To become a flight nurse, one must attain a licensed registered nursing degree. Additionally, applicants need to be in peak physical condition.

The places where these rescue operations take place can include helicopters, jets, airplanes or other types of aircrafts.

Job scope and responsibilities

Flight nurses have a long list of job duties. They include, but are not limited to:

• Being responsible for planning and prepping for aero-medical evacuation missions

• Maintaining the care, safety and comfort of patients

• Assessing individual patients’ in-flight vitals and needs

• Blood transfusion

• Caring for patients with medical and trauma-related issues

• Specialising in clinical skills used in conjunction with knowledge, education, theory and expertise in hospitals and other pre-hospital environments

• Performing advanced and difficult medical procedures without a doctor’s supervision. These procedures can be intubation, pain management, emotional care and ventilator management

These are only some of the many responsibilities that flight nurses have. Although they are sometimes assisted by other medical professionals such as doctors and paramedics onboard, there are also times where they are solely in charge of a patient.

The importance of flight nurses

Flight nurses are definitely as important as regular, grounded nurses. Since they are specialised in their field, they are trained to react appropriately to medical emergencies and care for patients. Hence, this makes their role crucial during a flight, as it is unlikely that a non-healthcare professional will be able to handle a medical situation as well as these nurses can.

Additionally, in any medical emergency, the speed and appropriateness of medical assistance can make that much of a difference to a patient. It could be the deciding factor for a patient that hinges between life and death.

Lastly, being air-borne presents a greater level of difficulty than being on the ground. Turbulence aside, these nurses have to deal with limited medical equipment and available expertise onboard. The nearest hospital is likely to be many hours away.

With the difficulty of the situation at hand and many other pressuring factors that come into play, the flight nurse has to execute the utmost patience, care and concentration while keeping her cool. She also needs to be trained with the adequate amount of experience to develop the suitable critical thinking skills required in medical situations. Hence, there is absolutely no doubt about a flight nurse’s importance. MIMS

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