Mercy Air Protocols

CTMD

Forum Crew Member
80
13
8
I'm curious as to how Mercy Air's protocols work throughout the US, specifically in Southern California/Southern Arizona. Are there corporate wide protocols that are followed or is it like ground EMS where each region has a unique set of protocols established by their individual medical directors?
I've heard that the scope is extremely restrictive in CA for flight medics but opens up dramatically once you cross the state line and head to AZ, OR, Etc. Is anyone able to shed some light on this and eleborate on what the protocols are like for Mercy Air? (For medics)
Also, is there a difference in protocols between companies like REACH or Mercy? Or is it all pretty uniform for the region?
 

DesertMedic66

Forum Troll
10,835
3,078
113
In CA the scope is all determined based on state and county protocols. So medics are not able to do surgical crics, chest tubes, pediatric ET, or admin a huge list of medications. The flight nurse is however able to preform all those skills.

If you jump over to AZ from what I have heard the RN and medic can operate as equals.
 

VentMonkey

Family Guy
5,186
4,334
113
It really is state-dependent. And before another nauseating Texas hijack occurs here, the CC environment is completely not about skills performed. It is about the education behind the skills performed.

You may end up as equals in another state yet find yourself doing the same amount of hands-on skills as the state you’d left. It is thee educational standards that sets the CC provider and world apart from the base-level knowledge.

IMO, Air Methods does a phenomenal job with educating their med crews, and EBM. I quite literally learned how to do all of those “cool skills” in an 8-hour cadaver lab (e.g., chest tubes, pericardiocentisis, surgical cric, etc.).

Am I an expert in all of them? Absolutely not, but the hands on practice coupled more so with the insight as to why they’re performed, and any proper techniques/ considerations vs. deleterious effects seems so much more applicable to the HEMS/ CC environment.

Also, FWIW, Mercy Air is merely a California/ Nevada Air Methods CBS faction. They have several “Mercy Air-type” CBS’ in AZ alone. Tri-State CareFlite and Native Air being the two prominent programs in AZ, respectively.

Incidentally, in talking to a former Tri-State nurse a few years ago she absolutely had nothing but good things to say about the volume and experience out of their Bullhead City base.
 

CANMAN

Forum Asst. Chief
797
411
63
In CA the scope is all determined based on state and county protocols. So medics are not able to do surgical crics, chest tubes, pediatric ET, or admin a huge list of medications. The flight nurse is however able to preform all those skills.

If you jump over to AZ from what I have heard the RN and medic can operate as equals.

That sounds just absolutely awful. Makes me wonder why anyone would want to work in HEMS as a medic there.
 
OP
C

CTMD

Forum Crew Member
80
13
8
It really is state-dependent. And before another nauseating Texas hijack occurs here, the CC environment is completely not about skills performed. It is about the education behind the skills performed.

You may end up as equals in another state yet find yourself doing the same amount of hands-on skills as the state you’d left. It is thee educational standards that sets the CC provider and world apart from the base-level knowledge.

IMO, Air Methods does a phenomenal job with educating their med crews, and EBM. I quite literally learned how to do all of those “cool skills” in an 8-hour cadaver lab (e.g., chest tubes, pericardiocentisis, surgical cric, etc.).

Am I an expert in all of them? Absolutely not, but the hands on practice coupled more so with the insight as to why they’re performed, and any proper techniques/ considerations vs. deleterious effects seems so much more applicable to the HEMS/ CC environment.

Also, FWIW, Mercy Air is merely a California/ Nevada Air Methods CBS faction. They have several “Mercy Air-type” CBS’ in AZ alone. Tri-State CareFlite and Native Air being the two prominent programs in AZ, respectively.

Incidentally, in talking to a former Tri-State nurse a few years ago she absolutely had nothing but good things to say about the volume and experience out of their Bullhead City base.
I know that after being hired at Mercy they send you to Colorado for training and orientation; is this similar to getting hired at their other subsidiaries? I know at the orientation they would cover company operations and the what not but do they also cover the advanced medical topics/procedures?

So are there not a set of written protocols that flight crews operate off of? I'm curious as to how calls actually run while in the air as all I know is the 5-10 minutes of what happens while on the ground.

Are there frequent skills labs to keep up proficiency in the more advanced skills?

Also, how is the transition going from ground to flight in terms of the IFT aspect? That is in terms of learning all the new medications and procedures that are commonplace in CC/HEMS. Are these also taught in orientation or are you expected to already have sufficient knowledge of them prior to hire?

Anyone have any other info on Tri-State, CareFlite or Native Air? I'm particularly interested in the Yuma region and am trying to find out more about the HEMS down there.
 

RocketMedic

Californian, Lost in Texas
4,723
1,336
113
For the ground CCT team (Kangaroo Crew) here in Houston, the difference looks to be focus. All they train for, do and prep for is sick/injured kids. And they're really good at it.
 

VentMonkey

Family Guy
5,186
4,334
113
I finally got my hands on Air Methods’ PCG’s. They’re not to be taken lightly (pun intended).

My old partner did a work over at my base and brought them with her. Along with all of the material required to be completed before her “third rider” time is completed.

Let’s just say none of it is to be taken lightly. And that is no joke. I am sure @VFlutter can attest.
 

VFlutter

Flight Nurse
3,720
1,245
113
Let’s just say none of it is to be taken lightly. And that is no joke. I am sure @VFlutter can attest.


Ya orientation can be brutal. Ton of stuff to get done and learn. The new PCGs are pretty legit. Push dose pressors, ARDS.net vent settings, more liberal Ketamine usage, etc.
 

NPO

Forum Deputy Chief
1,800
864
113
So medics are not able to do ... pediatric ET...

Just to clarify, that's not true.
CA passed a stop gap measure to allow Paramedics employed by CAMTS accredited agencies to do pediatric ETI until the formal Critical Care license scope is put into place.
 

NPO

Forum Deputy Chief
1,800
864
113
If you listen to any of Eric Bauer's stuff, he talks about it. He used to be part of the clinical team at Air Methods. He stresses how Air Methods does NOT use protocols, but rather guidelines because they stress clinical judgement rather than algorithmic practice.
 

DesertMedic66

Forum Troll
10,835
3,078
113
Just to clarify, that's not true.
CA passed a stop gap measure to allow Paramedics employed by CAMTS accredited agencies to do pediatric ETI until the formal Critical Care license scope is put into place.
Yep, I am aware of that. That post was prior to the state putting that stipulation in place.
 

VentMonkey

Family Guy
5,186
4,334
113
Paramedics employed by CAMTS accredited agencies to do pediatric ETI...
It’s certainly a current gray area. The smaller HBS programs such as ours are still caught in the middle of this bureaucratic band aid.
Just to clarify, that's not true.
CA passed a stop gap measure until...Critical Care license scope is put into place.
I’m curious to see, or know how this will play out.

When I talked to our medical director last about this potentiality, we shared a similar thought process about upholding a curriculum so it does not water down the added licensure, or its renewal process.

That said, the current clinical requirements, on paper, looks like a logistical nightmare. I’d also be curious to see where this would leave many of the “CCT” nurses when it’s all said and done.
If you listen to any of Eric Bauer's stuff, he talks about it. He used to be part of the clinical team at Air Methods. He stresses how Air Methods does NOT use protocols, but rather guidelines because they stress clinical judgement rather than algorithmic practice.
Correct, they’re referred to as Patient Care Guidelines, or “PCG’s”. IIRC, he was at one point head of the company’s clinical department. However, people such as Allen Wolfe, and Dave Olvera have certainly picked up where he left off.

The company itself, clinically, is arguably at the epicenter of much of the out-of-hospital cutting edge practices. My guess is much of it has to do with the amount of educated, clinically-driven providers (imagine that). I’m sure the company’s buy-in itself doesn’t hurt.
 

SandpitMedic

Crowd pleaser
Premium Member
2,232
1,200
113
Am I the only guy here who worked for Mercy Air?

Mercy Air is on the level when it comes to CC training and call volume to maintain skills and knowledge base. For why it’s worth, and it has been said already, it is important to note that Mercy Air is part of Air Methods Corporation (AMC). So yes, anyone hired by any AMC goes to Denver for a week long indoc and CCT training course. Quarterly labs are the standard with hours and hours of continuing education to help you stay sharp. Cadaver labs are an annual thing where I was at, and the labs are mandatory. I gained more knowledge from those labs and the physicians teaching them then I ever did on an online CE module.

The protocols are called PCGs, and as someone alluded to earlier, it’s right there in the name: Patient Care Guidelines.

They are big time on you using your critical thinking skills and performing at the top of your training. At the top of your training. At the top of your training... repeated for importance. They are indeed guidelines. You are expected to follow some more than others and in general they are all good guidelines based on the latest EBM. They update about once or twice a year, so they stay on it. They are written by a collaboration of all of the medical directors that AMC has throughout the country. For our area, our medical director was awesome, and had personal relationships and was on a first name basis with most of our local crews. Real good dude and exceptional practicing Emergency Medicine Physician. If you go outside the guidelines, you can usually call your medical director and explain yourself and get the blessing. You write it up as such in your after action report/debrief.

I miss the good old days at Mercy Air, and the crews. A great gang and great clinicians.
 
Last edited:

DesertMedic66

Forum Troll
10,835
3,078
113
Am I the only guy here who worked for Mercy Air?
From the sounds of it yes you are haha.

I’ll have more to add to this thread next month since I will be going through their indoctrination class then.
 

SandpitMedic

Crowd pleaser
Premium Member
2,232
1,200
113
From the sounds of it yes you are haha.

I’ll have more to add to this thread next month since I will be going through their indoctrination class then.
Congratulations! Do you know which base you’ll be yet? The desert bases stay busy.

I was in Vegas.

And for what it’s worth... we were warned about crossing that imaginary enemy line into CA and that we should be aware of what to do/not to do... more so, who was watching.
 

DesertMedic66

Forum Troll
10,835
3,078
113
Congratulations! Do you know which base you’ll be yet? The desert bases stay busy.

I was in Vegas.

And for what it’s worth... we were warned about crossing that imaginary enemy line into CA and that we should be aware of what to do/not to do... more so, who was watching.
PM sent
 

VFlutter

Flight Nurse
3,720
1,245
113
And for what it’s worth... we were warned about crossing that imaginary enemy line into CA and that we should be aware of what to do/not to do... more so, who was watching.

I found it sadly numerous in the book Trauma Junkie when they talked about trying to figure out which CA county they were in to know if they were allowed to do a certain procedure or not.
 

VentMonkey

Family Guy
5,186
4,334
113
I found it sadly numerous in the book Trauma Junkie when they talked about trying to figure out which CA county they were in to know if they were allowed to do a certain procedure or not.
I was always under the impression that the programs protocols, or PCG's, superseded something as silly as county lines, or boundaries. Not quite maritime law, but you get the gist.
 

SandpitMedic

Crowd pleaser
Premium Member
2,232
1,200
113
They do not.
 

NPO

Forum Deputy Chief
1,800
864
113
Theoretically, they should be allowed to practice under the protocols for the county they are from, regardless of where they are physically located.
 

Top