A flight nurse is traditionally a specialty where highly trained registered nurses provide comprehensive prehospital, emergency, and critical care to all types of patients during aeromedical evacuation or rescue operations aboard helicopter and propeller aircraft or jet aircraft. Flight nurses are paired with flight medics, respiratory practitioners, and/or flight physicians as a comprehensive emergency and critical transport team; especially in pediatric and neonatal transport teams,.
Role and duties
The flight nurse performs as a member of an aeromedical evacuation crew on helicopters and airplanes providing for in-flight management and nursing care for all types of patients. Responsibilities include planning and preparing for aeromedical evacuation missions and maintaining patient care, comfort, and safety. Flight nurses evaluate an individual patient's in-flight needs and request appropriate medications, supplies, and equipment to provide continuing nursing care from origination to the destination facility. They act as liaisons between medical and operational aircrews and support personnel in order to promote patient comfort and to expedite the mission, and also initiate emergency treatment in the absence of a physician during in-flight medical emergencies. Flight nurses have training in mechanical ventilation, hemodynamic support, vasoactive medications, and other intensive care skills.
Flight nurses care for a wide variety of patients with both medical and traumatic issues. Several books, written by flight nurses, have been published that help give insight to the flight nurse role. Operation Flight Nurse: Real-Life Medical Emergencies (Kaniecki, 2013) helps one understand the types of medical problems a flight nurse might encounter. Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse (Hudson, 2010) exposes the traumatic side of flight nursing.
Flight nurses are registered nurses and may have post-graduate training in intensive care or emergency nursing. They may also hold Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Neonatal Resuscitation certifications. Generally, flight nurses are required to have at least 5 years of experience in a critical care hospital setting (ER, ICU, etc.).
Flight nurses typically hold certifications such as:
- Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
- Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)
- Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN)
Types of flight nurses
Civilian flight nurses
Military flight nurses
The military flight nurse performs as a member of the aeromedical evacuation crew, and functions as the senior medical member of the aeromedical evacuation team on Continental United States (CONUS), intra-theater and inter-theater flights - providing for in-flight management and nursing care for all types of patients. Other responsibilities include planning and preparing for aeromedical evacuation missions and preparing a patient positioning plan to facilitate patient care, comfort and safety.
Flight Nurses evaluate individual patient's in-flight needs and request appropriate medications, supplies and equipment, providing continuing nursing care from originating to destination facility. They act as liaison between medical and operational aircrews and support personnel in order to promote patient comfort and to expedite the mission, and also initiate emergency treatment in the absence of a physician for in-flight medical emergencies.
- http://www.rchsd.org/ourcare/programsservices/c-d/chet/index.htm Children's Hospital Emergency Transport (CHET)
- US Air Force ROTC. "Flight Nurse". Retrieved 2008-06-05.
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