Just as ground ambulatory paramedics or mobile response units operate out of ground based vehicles answering emergency calls outside of the hospital flight nurses operate as a team on in flight aero medical missions onboard various aircraft such as jet aircraft, propeller aircraft and/or helicopters.
Flight nurses are becoming increasingly important today because of their ability to reach various locations much quicker than ground based mobile response units such as ambulances can and they are able to get to locations that are inaccessible to ground based vehicles such as mountainous terrain, forests, snow storms, cruise ships, fortified locations and a number of other hard to reach environments.
Among those who work in the flight nursing industry there are two primary types of flight nurses which perform very similar medical duties and in regards their patients, however they operate in completely different environments and on different types of missions.
Civilian flight nurses as the name suggests provide medical treatments to civilian patients and work mostly for hospitals, the Government, various fire departments and both private and commercial health care administrations.
Military flight nurses on the other hand are part of the United States Military and are in charge of providing aero-medical treatment and evacuations to both military and/or non military personnel.
They may also be responsible for extracting individuals from hostile war zones and dangerous environments.
In terms of education flight nurses generally need to have at least 5 years of training in the critical care field as a registered nurse, and are required to complete a variety of continuing education courses and become certified in a number of medical fields before being considered for a position as a flight nurse.
Because of the physical elements involved in providing proper care to patients who are in need of aero medical assistance as well as the need to ensure proper safety for themselves flight nurses are generally required to be fit and in good shape and may be turned down for a job if they become too over weight or lack the strength and/or stamina necessary to operate effectively under aero medical conditions.
Some flight nurses and organizations may also argue that height may play a role in determining the likelihood of a candidate being able to operate as a flight nurse because of the often small working spaces ( such as aircraft cabin space) flight nurses must operate in and be able to easily manuever around in.
For those who work as flight nurses it can be an extremely challenging and rewarding experience that requires nurses to think quickly on their feet and adapt to ever-changing situations and environments, but the benefits of knowing you are at the top of your game and helping those who are in need can easily overshadow the challenges and make the rewards seem that much greater.