Should I Become an Air Evac Paramedic?
Air evacuation paramedics ride in medical helicopters, using advanced life-support and emergency response procedures to treat emergency medical patients during their transport to a medical facility. This work can be physically demanding, requiring the lifting or other movement of patients during transport. Also, these emergency medical personnel can be required to work long hours, sometimes even overnight.
|Degree Level||Associate degree or certificate|
|Licensure||All states required paramedics to be licensed|
|Certification||EMT Paramedic certification through the NREMT|
|Salary(2014)||$31,700 per year (Median salary for all emergency medical technicians and paramedics)|
Source: National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), Paramedic degree certificate/programs, Air evac paramedic job listings (September 2012), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2014)
Step 1: Obtain Basic Life Support and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Certification
Prospective air evac paramedics may begin their training by obtaining the Basic Life Support (BLS) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certifications. These can be acquired in single-session classes that students can attend while still in high school.
Step 2: Complete Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Training
An EMT-Basic certificate may be obtained by attending a training program at a community, technical or vocational college. This program provides classroom instruction and practical experience in basic life support, lifting and moving patients, patient assessment, airway management and ambulance operations. Advanced courses teach students how to manage trauma and severe injuries as well as medical conditions involving substance abuse, allergic responses and other life-threatening medical events.
Step 3: Earn State Licensure
Before landing a job, EMTs must be licensed by their state of residence. In many cases, this entails earning EMT certification from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) after passing written and practical exams. However, some states require prospective EMTs to pass a state-issued test.
Step 4: Obtain Required EMT Experience
Paramedic programs often require applicants to have work experience before being admitted. You can satisfy this prerequisite by working as an EMT on an emergency response team.
Step 5: Complete Paramedic Training and Certification
Paramedics must complete a minimum of 1,200 hours of training before qualifying to take the NREMT certification examination. The roughly 7-month paramedic training program consists of classroom study, supervised clinical rotations and a supervised internship with an emergency response crew. Coursework covers anatomy, physiology, patient assessment, pharmacology, medical complaints and treatment modalities. Clinical rotations are served in emergency departments, anesthesiology and other departments treating critical care patients.
Upon program completion, individuals are eligible for national certification as a paramedic. This involves a written examination testing knowledge of such areas as patient airway, trauma and cardiology medical and emergency operations for adult and pediatric patients. There is also a hands-on test involving patient assessment, trauma, ventilatory management, cardiac management and communication skills.
- Verify state requirements. Applicants should verify if NREMT certification meets their state's licensing or certification requirements for paramedics.
Step 6: Obtain Air Medical Crew Education Credential
Paramedics who serve on air evac ambulance transports need to complete a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved air medical crew education program. This is a 4-day, 32-hour class that addresses the esoteric issues associated with different aircraft, including aircraft and landing zone safety procedures and prevention of crew error. The course covers specialized medical training addressing the physiological needs of patients treated at altitude and proper patient management during aircraft transport.
- Obtain advanced life support certifications. Air evacuation ambulance services generally require their paramedics to have certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Pediatric Pre-Hospital (PEPP), Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS), Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS) and/or Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP). They also often require applicants to have a minimum of five years paramedic emergency response experience, preferably in an urban setting.