What is a Helicopter Paramedic?
Maybe you’ve always dreamed of being a paramedic, rushing to emergency scenes and coming to the aid of people day in and day out, saving lives and making a difference.
In this dream, have you always seen an ambulance in the background? Most people think of them when they consider paramedics, but that’s not the only transport paramedics use. Helicopter medics, also known as flight medics, are paramedics who respond to emergencies by—you guessed it—helicopter, and the job is an option to consider for current or future paramedics with ambition to take their work to a different level.
What do Helicopter Paramedics Do?
Flight medics may function out of many of the same spaces as traditional paramedics, such as hospitals or emergency rooms’ mobile response units or government agencies. Like ground medics, they may offer care to patients on-scene as well as during transport to a medical facility with which they are affiliated. Many times, flight medics work on a team of medical professionals that may include a registered nurse, a respiratory therapist, a physician, and/or additional medics.
How Do You Become a Helicopter Paramedic?
Most helicopter paramedics are highly trained, highly educated, and highly experienced. To begin, they must complete the same training and earn the same certifications (NREMT and others) as ground paramedics. After two to five years of on-the-job learning, continuing education, and practical experience plus certification as a critical care specialist, paramedics may begin exploring flight medic certification.
To take the FP-C exam that licenses paramedics for flight, candidates must have or are required to have the following certifications:
- NREMT Certification
- TNACT, ATLS-Audit and CCEMTP (required by most)
- BLS or Basic Life Support
- ACLS or Advanced Cardiac Life Support
- PALS/PEPP which is Pediatric Advanced Life Support
- PHTLS/ITLS or Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support
Flight paramedics are required to have more training than ground medics because they often respond to calls involving broken bones, spinal or head injuries, cardiac arrests, airway restrictions, obstetric emergencies, and major burns.
Helicopter paramedics earn a reported $35,000 to $50,000 annual salary, depending on experience and location.