How To Become A Flight Paramedic
A flight paramedic is part of the medical support team that operates on medical emergency and evacuation missions. Flight paramedics work alongside nurses, physicians and other team members onboard an aircraft and are flown to sites where there are ill patients or victims of accidents. Flight paramedics operate as part of the mobile response unit of a hospital.
Once at the rescue site, paramedics quickly survey the scene and diagnose the issue of each patient. Flight paramedics are trained to care for many different injuries and ailments, including fractures and sprains; burns; childbirth; cardiac or respiratory arrest; poisonings; trauma victims; comas; and other issues. There are a wide range of issues that a flight paramedic may encounter, so they are trained to be prepared for anything.
A flight paramedic brings the patient into the aircraft, where they are flown back to the hospital for further inspection. A paramedic must be able to work in within a tight space amongst other team members, while the aircraft is in motion, and safely use equipment and other tools to operate on the patient and keep them stabilized while being transported to the hospital.
A person must first be trained as a paramedic who works on the ground. Once that training and certification is complete, a person can continue certification to work from an aircraft.
Why Become A Flight Paramedic
A flight paramedic is an important part of the mobile response unit. Working alongside doctors and nurses, they are responsible for assisting with patients who are injured or suffering from illness. As a flight paramedic, you will have the opportunity to save lives every day. You will work quickly to diagnose the situation, figure out the best method to treat the patient, and operate in a team based setting on an aircraft while in flight.
Flight paramedics are necessary because medical emergencies are constantly occurring and trained professionals are needed to help save victims. A career as a flight paramedic is a rewarding choice if you are interested in helping to save people’s lives and want a job that offers exciting challenges and something new on a daily basis.
A Flight Paramedic should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Medical Knowledge
- Equipment Knowledge
- Calm in a Crisis
- Enjoys Fast Pace
- Physically Fit
- Team Work
- Good Communicator
Flight Paramedic Work Environment
A flight paramedic works as part of a mobile response unit. They work on an aircraft, which may be a jet, helicopter, or other type of aircraft. Occasionally, a flight paramedic will be assigned to even a boat or an ambulance.
Working from an aircraft, the mobile response unit is dispatched from a hospital to a scene where there are ill patients or those suffering from severe trauma. The day for a flight paramedic is full of challenges, because a paramedic never knows what to expect when they are asked to report to a scene. No two days are alike for a flight paramedic.
There are always medical emergencies happening. Because of this, a flight paramedic will be expected to work any day of the week, including days, nights, overnights, weekends and holidays. Hours and shifts are often long for paramedics, often resulting in 12 hour or 24 hour shifts.
Flight Paramedic Salary
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for paramedics in 2012 was $31,020. Flight paramedics are not separated from ground paramedics in the Occupational Outlook Handbook that the Bureau of Labor Statistics produces. Most flight paramedics work at least 40 hours a week.
Flight Paramedic Career Outlook
There were approximately 2,000 people employed as flight paramedics in 2011. The job growth for paramedics is expected to grow 23% from 2012 to 2022. The medical field is growing rapidly and careers such as flight paramedics are sought after in order to keep up with demand. As the United States implements universal healthcare, large hospitals will look to expand their mobile response units.
Flight Paramedic Degree
There are no education requirements to become a flight paramedic. However, a flight paramedic is required to go through extensive training and certification before they are allowed to work in this field.
A person must meet the following requirements to become a flight paramedic:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (approved by the NREMT)
- CPR training
- Paddle training
- Worked for three years as a paramedic
- Immunity to air sickness
- Demonstrate proficiency in treating a variety of ailments
- Demonstrate physical fitness
- Must pass criminal background check
A person must have the following certifications in order to become a flight paramedic:
- NREMT Certification
- CCEMTP, TNACT, ATLS-Audit Certification
- Basic Life Support
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support
- Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support
Upon receiving each of these certifications, a candidate can then sit for their FP-C exam (Flight Paramedic Certified). The exam consists of 125 questions and the candidate has 2.5 hours to complete the exam. Questions cover a diverse amount of topics: flight physiology; cardio-respiratory system; neurological system; obstetrics; trauma; pediatrics; and other topics. If a candidate passes the exam, they are certified as a flight paramedic and can begin working in this field.
There are few people who work as flight paramedics due to the extensive certifications and training that are required to work in this field. However, it is an extremely rewarding field to work in, with new challenges every day and the knowledge that you are saving the lives of people.