Demanding schedules combined with numerous physiological stressors increase degenerative effects of flight crew members in Air Medical Transport. The focus here is mainly on those in rotary flight – at Sea level to 12,500 feet. At lower altitudes, environmental stressors such as barometric changes, thermal stress from temperature variants, maintaining physical equilibrium from moving in all three vectors, and engine with wing noise can be intensive.
Highly experienced and certified Registered Nurses, Flight Paramedics, Respiratory Therapists/Paramedics, Pediatric Medical Team & Neonatal Nurses, Physicians trained in Critical Care Medicine such as Cardiologists, Neurologists, Orthopedists care for injured and sick often balancing adrenaline levels to perform critical jobs. Historically the respiratory and circulatory systems have been thought of as the most directly impacted while flying and I would add blood glucose, adrenal and gut function to that list.
We know the brain and muscles use glucose as fuel, so covering the basics for sound glucose conversion is paramount for healthy crew members.
Meals & Snacks – eat a balanced diet – 1/3 complex carbs, 1/3 protein, 1/3 good fats:
- Complex carbs, high-quality protein and fats convert to glucose more gradually than simple carbs and sustain better energy levels over time
- Eat or snack every 3-4 hours for better blood glucose balance, mental clarity and mood
- Pack healthy snacks and simple meals for convenience, quality control and craving avoidance
- Hydration – drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces of filtered water each day
Sleep – 7-8 quality hours each night:
- Supports healthy brain function, mental acuity, good memory and temperament
- Regenerates all organs of elimination and supports healthy hormone balance
- Boosts levels of Growth Hormone produced for replenishing the body while at rest
Exercise & Movement:
- Improves your ability to rest and sleep well
- Mental and mood balance from producing healthy biochemicals
- Walk, swim, stretch, weights, Yoga – even 10-15 minutes is better than 0 minutes!
Stress Relief & Reduction:
- Practice breathing deeply and rhythmically – this will help control increased breathing rate from adrenalin release when in high-stress situations
- Keep your head in the game by having a good supportive circle of friends and loved ones
Creating and maintaining a healthy Work-Life balance will minimize the degenerative effects of flight stressors. Being able to unplug and regenerate will counterbalance air ambulance and emergency air care. Daily self-care provides cumulative foundational health, much like having a sound checking account with lots of great deposits.