Air Ambulance Jobs

By Shelley Moore

  • Overview

    Air Ambulance Jobs
    A helicopter or airplane ambulance brings seriously ill or critically injured persons to hospitals. Typically the crew consists of a pilot, flight nurse and paramedic. Air ambulance jobs are essential components of health care systems, as the nurse and paramedic administer life support care to keep the patient alive until they can reach a facility with full teams of professionals and all the necessary equipment.
  • Features

    Some air ambulance services work in rural and remote areas where transportation to a major hospital is lengthy or difficult. Other services land at scenes of vehicle accidents or natural disasters. Pilots typically work 12-hour shifts with a seven days on, seven days off schedule. Paramedics and nurses usually work 12-hour shifts or longer, and can even be scheduled for 24-hour shifts. All work weekends and holidays.
  • Pilots

    Most air ambulance services require their new pilots to have 1000 to 3000 hours of flight time experience. They prefer instrument-rated, or IFR pilots, who are skilled at flying at night or in situations with poor visibility. Pilots are responsible not only for flying the helicopter or fixed-wing plane, but for cleaning the aircraft, and making sure that it is maintained properly and ready to go to the next trauma scene. Pilots can advance to base pilot supervisor, who works with the medical supervisors to make sure the base operates efficiently. Base pilot supervisors coordinate work schedules, aircraft maintenance and flight planning. They also function as the chief safety officer.

  • Paramedics

    Another air ambulance job, the flight paramedic, is one of the most desired positions in the field of emergency medical services. Each job listing attracts hundreds of applicants, which keeps the pay relatively low. Entry-level paramedics begin as street paramedics, providing emergency health services to sick and injured people, and taking them to the hospital. Usually a paramedic has an Associate's degree, and a Bachelor's degree adds extra potential for becoming a flight paramedic. Air ambulance companies look for several years of extensive experience with high-pressure EMS when hiring new paramedics.
  • Nurses

    Because of a constant shortage of registered nurses in all areas, the flight nurse earns much higher pay than the paramedic. A flight nurse typically has previous experience in critical care, emergency services and advanced life support, so she is highly skilled at providing intensive care to patients under time-sensitive and stressful conditions. Paramedics sometimes return to school for a registered nursing degree to heighten their chances of becoming part of an air ambulance crew.
  • Considerations

    All air ambulance jobs require physical fitness and stamina. The crew must be energetic and alert, mentally stable, and able to handle gruesome or disturbing situations. They must stay calm while working with victims in severe pain and life-threatening conditions, as well as deal with traumatized family members and others who may have been involved in an accident or disaster situation. The work is very demanding, but also is highly rewarding because the air ambulance crew is responsible for saving lives.
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