Working as a flight paramedic can be challenging, exciting, as well it takes a great deal of responsibility. Flight paramedics work as a integral part of an air rescue team that utilizes an air ambulance rescue helicopter to get to the scenes of incidence. Currently across the United States over 85% of air medical companies utilize flight paramedics. Whether it is for emergency services more typical to a paramedic, or for patient transfers. If you are interested in becoming a flight paramedic, you will generally be required to be a full level paramedic, with specific required certifications, as well as have a minimum of 3-5 years of experience working in emergency services.
Part of the profession involved dealing with those that are critically injured and ill, and often paramedics will be first responders into situations where triage is required. The work of a flight paramedic can be both physically and emotionally challenging, and much like those that work as paramedics or firefighters it does take a certain type of personality to do this work.
Paramedics are responsible for providing intervening life saving emergency to those that have been injured in an accident, or have fallen ill. This can involve CPR, addressing and compressing wounds and injuries, to much more complex situations. It is common for paramedics to be called to such events as heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, falls, and other major illnesses. Their primary job is to enter an accident scene, stabilize an injured or ill patient, and transport them to a trauma center for appropriate medical treatment.
For those that wish to become a flight paramedic, here are some typical requirements
- A high level of paramedic training from an accredited program recognized by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Paramedics are recognized as a level 5, and this will be the requirement for those that wish to work as a flight paramedic.
- 3-5 years of critical experience as a paramedic
- Many companies will ask for higher level certifications such as FP-C (Flight Paramedic-Certified) or a CCEMT-P (Critical Care Emergency Medical Transport Paramedic)
- An adequate level of physical fitness, with the ability to work in tight spaces. (paramedics are required to complete both written and physical exams when they apply for a state license)
Flight Paramedic vs. Flight Nurse
Those that work as flight paramedics earn roughly 50-60% the salary that a flight nurse can command depending on experience level. Flight paramedics will also often joke that they also have the less comfortable seats on the helicopter, as well as have the tougher and more dirty job. The difference between the 2 is that the education level required to be a paramedic is much lower than that of a registered nurse (requirement for flight nurses). Registered nurses are required to complete 4 years of education, and those that work as flight nurses will be required to complete further critical care continuing education, as where a paramedic can often complete their credentials in 1-2 years. Many that work as flight paramedics do so while upgrading their education to become a registered nurse. Both the flight nurse, and flight paramedic work 24 hour schedules (6-8 shifts per month). This allows for great career flexibility, and often the ability to work or study in the spare time.
Military Flight Medic
Those that receive their training in the military will learn specialized training for MEDEVAC situations. Military flight medics will receive their certification from EMT-Basic all the way up to EMT-Paramedic. The army generally sends it EMT’s and paramedics to Ft. Rucker Alabama for a special 4 week course which is designed to train medical personnel and medics to be competent working aboard U.S. Army air ambulances. Those that have received full paramedic training through the military and have now entered the civilian workforce will often find it an easy route when attempting to gain employment. The skills learned as an Army flight paramedic on Army air ambulances if seen as a major asset to companies that hire flight nurses and flight paramedics.
Flight Paramedic Salary
The average salary for EMTs as a whole in the United States is $33,300 per year. Those that work as flight paramedics will be required to have the highest level of training recognized by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Flight paramedics will be at the higher end of the spectrum when compared to all those working as EMTs. While an entry level position may pay around $35 000 per year, those with experience will commonly earn over $50 000 working a flight paramedic.