The Expertise Behind PHI Air Medical: A Closer Look at Our Certified Flight Registered Nurses and Certified Flight Paramedics

When it comes to emergency air medical & air ambulance services, the expertise and dedication of the PHI Air Medical team is paramount. At PHI Air Medical, we pride ourselves on the high standards set for our Certified Flight Registered Nurses (CFRN) and Certified Flight Paramedics (FP-C). Here’s what makes them exceptional and the rigorous standards they meet.

I chose to become a Flight Nurse because flying is cool but more importantly because I get to be the best part of someone’s worst day. We operate in high-stress environments with autonomy and skill. What keeps me here after 20+ years is that PHI Air Medical is always on the cutting edge of patient care. – Michele Guthrie, CFRN

Becoming a CFRN or FP-C

Experience Matters

Before joining PHI Air Medical, our flight nurses and air ambulance paramedics must have a minimum of three  years of critical care experience. This guarantees they are well-prepared for the unique challenges of air medical care.

The most challenging is facing the unpredictable nature of emergencies, where split-second decisions can make the difference between life and death. The most rewarding is knowing that your expertise and care directly impact someone’s chance at survival, recovery, and the quality of life they will lead. – Louise Sandoval, CFRN

Certification Commitment

We provide a clear pathway for newly hired nurses and paramedics to obtain their CFRN or FP-C certification within two years, underscoring our commitment to the highest standards of care. This journey to certification is comprehensive, encompassing advanced clinical skills, extensive knowledge of flight physiology, and rigorous testing.

Advanced Skills and Knowledge

Comprehensive Training

CFRNs and FP-Cs undergo a rigorous 10 -12-week academy. The academy consists of classroom lectures, hands on training with equipment, learning protocols and procedures, clinicals, and simulation training including mastery of advanced airway management, mechanical ventilation, and the operation of essential medical equipment. Additionally, training covers the use of portable diagnostic tools for on-the-spot assessments and interventions.

Specialized Expertise

Flight Nurses have backgrounds working in the ICU or Emergency Department for a minimum of 3 years. These nurses have expertise in cardiac, neurological, and stroke care. Flight Paramedics excel in pre-hospital emergency response, extrication, and interaction with fire departments while responding to a call.

Flight Nurse and Paramedic training also includes extensive preparation in managing the physiological challenges of high-altitude environments, securing their ability to deliver optimal care during flight.

Certified Flight Paramedics Air Ambulances

The Path to Certification

Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)

Prior to joining PHI Air medical nurses must first pass courses in advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), pediatric advanced life support (PALS), and trauma nursing core course (TNCC). The path to becoming a CFRN at PHI Air Medical builds on a robust foundation in critical care or emergency nursing, with prior exposure to cardiac, neurological, and stroke care. This background is crucial as they move into the specialized environment of air medical services. The comprehensive preparation for CFRN extends beyond standard nursing education and includes:

  • Comprehensive Patient Management: Training encompasses specialized education in aeromedical transport which includes aviation safety, flight physiology, and managing a patient outside of a hospital environment.
  • Expert Airway and Ventilation Techniques: CFRNs attain proficiency in advanced airway management, ventilator management, the use of rescue airways, and other vital techniques. Their expertise facilitates optimal oxygenation and airway management which is crucial for maintaining patient stability.
  • Equipment Proficiency: Flight nurses are trained to operate a variety of essential pieces of medical equipment seamlessly.  Cardiac monitors, ventilators, IV pumps, balloon pumps, Empella devices, fetal monitors, and portable diagnostic devices such as ultrasound. This skill set maintains seamless and high-quality care from ground to air.

Advances in technology have allowed us to bring the intensive care unit to the patient’s side, whether we meet them at home, on the top of a mountain, or at a rural community hospital. With PHI’s investment in Hamilton T1 mechanical ventilators across the fleet, we can provide the most advanced methods of respiratory support to critically ill patients, from neonates to adults.  – Kristopher Thompson, CFRN

Certified Flight Paramedic (FP-C)

Flight paramedics come to their roles with a deep understanding of emergency medical services, particularly in cardiac and trauma response. Their transition to air medical services is supported by specialized training that sharpens their skills for in-flight care:

  • Critical Care Paramedicine: Specialized training in critical care paramedicine covers advanced cardiac care, complex medical condition management, and the use of sophisticated medical devices. This knowledge is pivotal for providing high-level care to critically ill individuals.
  • Advanced Pharmacology: FP-CS possess detailed knowledge of emergency and critical care pharmacology, essential for the safe and effective administration of medications during transport.
  • Flight Physiology and Safety: FP-CS are well-versed in the physiological effects of flight on the human body and trained in aviation safety protocols, assuring the safety of both patients and the medical team during transport.

After reading several textbooks, over 100 hours of professional lectures and numerous practice exams, I can tell you preparing for the FP-C exam was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. The angst and stress that came with the preparation was worth it the day I obtained my FP-C certification. Not only was there a sense of personal accomplishment but I felt better prepared to help the patients in my community.  – Nicholas Ahlstrom, FP-C

Collaborative Patient Care

Seamless Coordination Between CFRNs and FP-Cs

At PHI Air Medical, the collaborative approach between CFRNs and FP-Cs is a cornerstone of our patient care strategy. Both roles bring unique skills and expertise to the table, ensuring comprehensive care for patients during air transport.

  • Integrated Care Teams: Our air medical teams are composed of CFRNs, FP-Cs and other medical professionals who work together seamlessly. Each team member plays a vital role in assessing, stabilizing, and monitoring patients throughout the transport process. This integrated approach confirms that all aspects of patient care are comprehensively addressed.
  • Clear Communication Protocols: Effective communication is essential for the success of our air medical missions. CFRNs and FP-Cs utilize standardized communication protocols to share critical patient information quickly and accurately. This ensures that everyone on the team is aware of the patient’s condition and the care plan.
  • Interdisciplinary Training: To foster teamwork and collaboration, CFRNs and FP-Cs participate in interdisciplinary training exercises. These training sessions simulate real-life scenarios, allowing team members to practice working together under high-pressure conditions. This preparation ensures that our teams are ready to handle any situation that arises during transport.

Leadership and Decision-Making in the Air

Both CFRNs and FP-Cs work together as a team during air medical transports. Their advanced training and experience enable them to make critical decisions and coordinate care effectively.

  • Clinical Decision-Making: In the fast-paced environment of air medical transport, quick and accurate clinical decision-making is crucial. Flight crew are trained to assess patient conditions rapidly, identify potential complications, and implement appropriate interventions. Their ability to think critically and act decisively can make a significant difference in patient outcomes.
  • Coordination with Ground Teams: Effective coordination with ground EMS and or hospital personnel is essential for seamless patient care. Flight crew work closely with emergency responders, hospital staff, and other healthcare providers to ensure continuity of care. This includes providing detailed patient reports, coordinating the transfer of care, and ensuring that all necessary information is communicated.
  • Crisis Management: Handling medical emergencies in the air requires strong teamwork and crisis management skills. CFRNs and FP-Cs are trained to remain calm under pressure, prioritize tasks, and manage critical situations. Their ability to manage crises effectively guarantees that patients receive the best possible care, even in challenging circumstances.

Continuous Improvement

Ongoing Education and Training

At PHI Air Medical, we believe in the importance of continuous improvement and professional development for our medical personnel. Both flight Nurses and flight Paramedics are required to engage in ongoing education and training to maintain their skills and knowledge.

  • Continuing Education Programs: To keep up with the latest advancements in medical care, flight Nurses and flight Paramedics participate in continuing education programs. These programs cover a wide range of topics, including new treatment protocols, advances in medical technology, and best practices in patient care. Continuous education ensures that our team members are always at the forefront of medical knowledge.
  • Certification Renewal: Maintaining certification is an essential part of professional development for CFRNs and FP-Cs. This involves meeting specific continuing education requirements and passing periodic recertification exams. By maintaining their certifications, our medical personnel demonstrate their commitment to excellence in patient care.
  • Professional Development Opportunities: PHI Air Medical provides numerous opportunities for professional development, including workshops, conferences, and specialized training sessions. These opportunities allow to flight Nurses and flight Paramedics to expand their skills, network with other professionals, and stay informed about the latest trends and developments in the field.

Quality Improvement Initiatives

Continuous improvement is not limited to individual development; it also encompasses organizational practices. At PHI Air Medical, we are committed to quality improvement initiatives that enhance patient care and operational efficiency.

  • Protocol Development and Review: Our team consists of Medical Directors, Clinical Managers, and Clinical Educators that come together as a National Team that are actively involved in developing and reviewing clinical protocols. These protocols guide patient care and ensure consistency and quality across all missions. We regularly review and update our practices to stay aligned with the latest evidence-based guidelines.
  • Performance Monitoring and Feedback: Monitoring performance and providing feedback are critical components of our quality improvement efforts. We track key performance indicators, such as response times, patient outcomes, and compliance with protocols. Feedback from these metrics helps us identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes.
  • Patient Safety Initiatives: At PHI Air Medical, maintaining patient safety is our foremost priority. We implement various patient safety initiatives, including safety training, risk assessments, and incident reporting systems. These initiatives help us identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them, ensuring a safe environment for our patients and crew.

The Impact on Patient Outcomes

Enhanced Care and Safety

The advanced training and skills of CFRNs and FP-Cs directly contribute to improved patient outcomes during air medical transport. Their ability to provide high-quality care under challenging conditions ensures that patients receive timely and effective treatment, which can be lifesaving in critical situations.

  • Rapid Response and Critical Interventions: The speed and efficiency with which flight crew can respond to emergencies are crucial in the air medical environment. Their expertise in critical care and trauma management allows them to quickly assess patient conditions and implement necessary interventions. This rapid response capability is vital for stabilizing patients and preventing further deterioration of their conditions.
  • Timely Interventions: Flight Crew are trained to perform critical interventions such as intubation, chest decompressions, and administering life-saving medications. These timely actions can significantly improve patient survival rates and outcomes.
  • Advanced Monitoring: The use of advanced monitoring equipment allows flight crew to continuously assess vital signs and detect any changes in patient conditions. This enables them to make informed decisions and adjust care plans as needed.

Specialized Care for Diverse Patient Populations

CFRNs and FP-Cs are prepared to care for a wide range of emergency situations and patients, including those with complex medical needs. Their training covers various specialties, ensuring that they can provide appropriate care for patients of all ages and medical illness.

  • Pediatric Care: Providing care for pediatric patients requires specialized knowledge and skills. CFRNs and FP-Cs are trained in pediatric advanced life support (PALS) and are equipped to handle emergencies involving infants and children.
  • Neonatal Care: For neonatal patients, CFRNs and FP-Cs follow protocols from the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP). This training ensures they can provide the delicate and precise care required for newborns.
  • Geriatric Care: Older adults often have unique medical needs. CFRNs and FP-Cs are skilled in managing geriatric patients, including those with chronic conditions and multiple comorbidities.

Patient Comfort and Emotional Support

Beyond their technical skills, Flight crew also play a crucial role in providing emotional support to patients and their families. Air medical transport can be a stressful and frightening experience, and the compassionate care provided by our team helps alleviate anxiety and provide reassurance.

  • Communication: Effective communication is key to providing comfort and support. CFRNs and FP-Cs communicate clearly with patients and their families, explaining procedures and answering questions to help reduce fear and uncertainty.
  • Empathy and Compassion: Demonstrating empathy and compassion is an integral part of patient care. Flight crew are trained to offer emotional support, helping patients and families feel understood and cared for during a critical time.

PHI Cares Certified Flight Paramedics

Leveraging Technology and Innovation

Advanced Medical Equipment

Our air ambulances are equipped with advanced medical technology, enabling CFRNs and FP-Cs to provide comprehensive care during transport.

  • Portable Diagnostic Tools: Use of hemodynamic monitoring and in some states, bedside ultrasound, aid in the rapid assessment and treatment of patients.

Evidence-Based Practices

Implementing evidence-based practices is fundamental to our approach at PHI Air Medical. CFRNs and FP-Cs stay informed about the latest research and guidelines, ensuring that their care reflects the best available evidence.

  • Clinical Guidelines: Adhering to established clinical guidelines ensures that patient care is consistent and effective. Flight crew follow protocols based on the latest evidence, providing high-quality care that meets industry standards.
  • Continuous Improvement: Our commitment to continuous improvement involves regularly reviewing and updating our practices. Feedback from patient outcomes, performance metrics, and new research helps us refine our protocols and enhance our care.

The Broader Impact of CFRNs and FP-Cs

Community Involvement and Outreach

CFRNs and FP-Cs extend their expertise beyond the air medical environment through community involvement and outreach programs. These initiatives help educate the public on critical health and safety topics, promoting overall community well-being.

  • Public Education: Our medical professionals participate in public education efforts, including CPR training, first aid workshops, and health fairs. These programs help empower community members with life-saving skills and knowledge.
  • Emergency Awareness: CFRNs and FP-Cs collaborate with local emergency services to enhance community emergency preparedness and awareness.

Advocacy and Support for Air Medical Services

CFRNs and FP-Cs play a crucial role in advocating for the importance of air medical services. Their firsthand experiences and expertise make them powerful voices in supporting policies and initiatives that enhance access to critical care.

  • Legislative Advocacy: Our medical professionals engage in legislative advocacy efforts to support funding and policies that ensure the availability of air medical services. Their insights help inform lawmakers about the critical role these services play in saving lives.
  • Professional Organizations: CFRNs and FP-Cs are often active members of professional organizations, contributing to the advancement of the field through research, education, and policy development.

A Legacy of Excellence

At PHI Air Medical, we understand that emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. That’s why we are always prepared, with a team of highly trained CFRNs and FP-Cs ready to respond at a moment’s notice. Our commitment to delivering unparalleled care and support guarantees that you or your loved one receives the highest level of medical attention during transport. Additionally, our PHI Cares air ambulance membership program offers financial protection for your entire household, covering any out-of-pocket costs if flown in an air medical emergency. This program provides peace of mind, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery during critical times.

The impact of being a flight clinician in our community allows us to connect with people on a whole new level. We sometimes are called to transport people that we know and that ties us even deeper to the community in which we live. – Michele Guthrie, CFRN

The journey to becoming a Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN) or Certified Flight Paramedic (FP-C) at PHI Air Medical is rigorous, requiring significant experience and a commitment to ongoing professional development. By setting these high standards, we ensure our patients receive the best possible care during air transport. Whether you’re being cared for by a CFRN or a FP-C you can trust that PHI Air Medical’s team is dedicated to providing exceptional, life-saving care when it matters most. Our commitment to continuous improvement, advanced training, and interprofessional collaboration keeps us at the forefront of air medical services and air medical transport. The dedication and expertise of our CFRNs and FP-CS make a profound difference in patient outcomes, providing critical care when every second counts.