Managing Severe Pain During an Emergency Medical Transport Flight

People involved in serious accidents may need to be airlifted to the nearest hospital to be assessed and treated as soon as possible. During the emergency transport flight, the patient may experience severe pain, which can lead to anxiety, high blood pressure, and even shock. It is essential that severe pain be recognized and treated while in-flight, which will help stabilize the patient’s condition. Here are some interventions that the flight nurse may implement to help manage severe pain during an emergency medical transport.

Stabilization and Splinting

A bone fracture or ligament tear can cause severe pain, however, that pain can be minimized by splinting the affected limb. Splinting helps stabilize the limb to reduce movement. When the limb remains still, the patient may be more comfortable because pain responses are often elicited by movement. While the patient is wearing the splint, the flight nurse will periodically check the limb for color and temperature changes. If the limb changes color or if it becomes cold to the touch, circulation may be impaired.

Administer Pain Medication

The flight nurse may also administer pain medication to the patient. Depending upon the patient’s health status and history of drug allergies, the nurse may either administer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, or narcotic opioid-based pain medications. The drugs may be given via the intravenous route, intramuscularly, or orally if the patient is alert, oriented, and has the ability to swallow.

For more information on emergency medical transport flights, call Flying Nurses International, LLC or visit the website at

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