Not every day is the same for flight nurses who work in non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT). Every day, they deal with different types of patients who need a variety of medical services during their flight.
However, there are certain duties that often come up every day for a NEMT flight nurse. But first, it’s important to understand what NEMT is and how it differs from an air ambulance.
What Is NEMT?
NEMT involves the transportation of patients who require or desire medical assistance when traveling on scheduled flights on commercial airlines like Delta, United, Lufthansa, etc… both domestic and international. People hire a company like Flying Angels so a flight nurse can travel with their loved one. This can be for many reasons, including medical trips to specialist hospitals and doctors far away, for relocating an elderly parent, or for bringing home a loved one who was injured overseas. Family members are always welcome to fly with the flight nurse, but in most cases, it is just the flight nurse and the patient.
Whatever the case, flight nurses have a long list of duties. Flight nurses for Flying Angels all have experience in providing emergency medical care and have extensive experience in dealing with emergency and trauma situations.
Duties For Flight Nurses
So, what does a flight nurse do on a typical day? They usually include some or all the following.
Double Checking Plans
Flight nurses work with flight coordinators (who also are nurses) to handle the details in arranging NEMT with commercial airlines. They will review the procedures for the airports they plan to visit that day and reach out to any officials they need to speak with before arriving at the airport.
Packing The Medical Kit
Prior to any transport flight coordinators prepare an extensive case file that will include relevant information on the patient, and all details related to the transport including ground, air, hotels, and points of contact. Flight nurses will review the case file of that day’s patient beforehand. They will know all the medical equipment they need to deal with any type of issue that might come up given the conditions of each patient. Before departing home, will make sure they have any specialty medical equipment needed for the flight such as specialty reclining wheelchairs, oxygen equipment, suction, nebulizers, etc…
Working in tandem with the flight coordinators, flight nurses make sure they meet all the pre-planned points on the trip, as laid out in the case file. The day before the flight the flight nurse will meet with the client at their residence and facility and will go over the plan for the following day. The flight nurse will confirm that all documents are in order, all medications are accounted for, and that all parties involved are aware of the schedule for the following day. The flight nurse will also will confirm that the ground transportation, arranged earlier by the flight coordinator is set up and in order. The flight nurse will stay overnight at a nearby hotel. The day of transport the flight nurse will return to pick up the patient at their home or residence and travel with them to the airport.
During the Flight
Flight nurses with Flying Angels have trained in flight physiology, and have extensive experience in air travel and the complexities involved getting through the check-in process, security, and customs & immigration for international flights. They also understand any psychological distress a patient might feel throughout the journey. Further, they know the specific circumstances of the patient they are flying with that day and know the signs of any problem. They also will monitor when it is time for medications and make routine checks.
Flights nurses oversee the patient disembarking from the plane safely and make sure they get through the airport to the awaiting ground transportation where they will travel with the patient to their final destination. Typically they will stay at an airport hotel and will then return to their point of origin the following day ready for another flight.
The daily routine of a flight nurse always has some variables, but it’s an exciting and challenging job no matter what the specific duties for each day’s flight. Flight nurses serve an important function in working with patients with medical conditions and illnesses, keeping them safe when they fly.