A flight paramedic is a paramedic that operates in aero-medical emergency/evacuation missions and provides critical care for medical emergencies and trauma patients.
These paramedics may operate onboard a variety of different aircraft such as jet aircraft, propeller aircraft and/or helicopters.
When on an aero-medical mission flight paramedics work with a medical support team which may include flight nurses, flight physicians and/or respiratory practitioners.
In addition to working onboard aircraft paramedics may also operate from a boat, ambulance, motorcycle, bicycle or mobile response unit.
Responsibilities of a flight paramedic
Flight paramedics work with a mobile response unit outside of a hospital setting and provide on site emergency medical care to patients suffering from a severe injury, trauma or sickness.
They are responsible for diagnosing their patients condition and providing proper medical support to aid in the recovery and/or stabilization of their patients injury/ailment while transporting them to a qualified health care facility.
Flight paramedics assess their patients condition, administer medications, perform advanced medical care and/or possible on site surgery and operate advanced medical machinery.
Because of the unpredictable situations and injuries a flight paramedic may encounter they are highly trained and certified to perform critical medical assessment and care on a variety of different injuries and ailments some of which may include:
- spinal injuries
- bone fractures
- 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns
- cardiac arrest
- airway management
- blood circulation management
- wound management
and a host of other medical injuries or ailments.
Flight paramedics are also trained to operate a variety of onboard medical devices and tools such as:
- heart monitors
- cardiac monitors
- balloon pumps
- iv drips
- medical kits
- inflatable splints
- airway management devices and tools
- stretchers and boards
- medication delivery devices
and many other devices and tools needed to aid in the proper care of their patients.
Flight paramedics dramatically increase the survivability rate of patients by providing comprehensive emergency trauma care, immediate transportation to qualified hospital and health care facilities and when necessary providing critical advanced medical procedures on site.
Becoming a flight paramedic
Those looking to start a career as a flight paramedic must first become certified and trained as a ground paramedic.
After completing your ground paramedic training and certification it is extremely important to continue your education and take as many additional training and certification courses as possible.
Take your critical care courses, get certified and start getting as much experience as possible doing critical care calls while working as a ground paramedic.
In some hospitals as many as 80 percent of calls flight paramedics receive are critical care transports so the more experience you can gain doing critical care transports the better your application will look.
Getting a position as a flight paramedic can be extremely challenging as most locations have a significantly higher number of applicants than positions available so the more experience and training you can gain the better.
Depending on where you apply most hospitals and/or health care facilities look for flight paramedics who have at least 2 – 5 years of experience as ground paramedics.
Some of the training and certifications hospitals and health care facilities look for include:
- flight paramedic certification
- critical care certification
- critical care paramedic certification
- pre-hospital trauma life support
- cpr training
- advanced cardiac life support certification
- paddle training
as well as training and certification in a number of other medical courses.
In addition to the training and experience you’ve acquired as a ground paramedic hospitals and health care facilities also look for paramedics who can think quickly on their feet, challenge their physicians and flight nurses diagnoses when they believe it’s wrong, consistently show a desire for continued education and put their patients safety and health as their top priority.
Most hospitals look only for the best and most educated paramedics and that only comes from years of experience and education.