Duties and responsibilities
A flight paramedic is the first on-site medical care provider during airlifts in helicopters to hospitals. They are responsible for providing care to patients to keep them stable enough to reach those individuals who can provide extensive care. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Responding to emergency calls that require air transport (e.g., in remote locations or from hospitals that are far apart)
- Assessing a patient’s condition at the scene and determining a course of treatment (e.g., administering medication, injections and IVs)
- Getting the patient safely in the helicopter and transporting them safely to hospital
- Transferring patients to the emergency department of a hospital
- Reporting what treatment the patient has already received to emergency physicians, nurses, or other healthcare facility staff
- Documenting medical care given to patients
- Tracking stock and replacing and cleaning supplies and equipment after us
To become a flight paramedic, you will typically need to be a licensed paramedic and have 3-5 years experience working as a paramedic. You will need to have an understanding of advanced cardiovascular life support, pediatric advanced life support and pre-hospital trauma life support.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as the genuine passion for helping others and not being afraid of flying, flight paramedics will need skills such as:
- Empathy, as flight paramedics will need to be compassionate and understanding to patients who are in a great deal of pain and distress
- Thrill-seeking, as working in a helicopter requires someone with a sense of adventure
- Physical stamina, as flight paramedics need to keep up with the demands of the job, which involves bending, lifting patients and kneeling
- Listening skills, as flight paramedics will need to listen carefully to their patients to determine the extent of their injury. They will also need to listen carefully to paramedics to ensure they provide the correct care
- Teamwork skills as flight paramedics will works as part of a small and cohesive team with nurses, other paramedics and pilots
- Interpersonal skills, as flight paramedics need to coordinate and work with others and patients
Most flight paramedics work full time, with some working more than 40 hours per week. They may work overnight and on weekends and some EMTs will work shifts in 12- or 24-hour increments.
According to the website Payscale.com, flight paramedics can expect to earn a higher amount than their ambulatory counterparts, earning between $20 and $24 per hour on average (or $50,000 to $60,000 yearly), and that number should rise as years of experience are accumulated.
Flight paramedics have already progressed from ambulance paramedics. With more experience, they may become responsible for supervising and training other paramedics.