Entry level flight companies

BayEMTmaybeP

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Hey everyone. Question for you. I am located in the Bay Area, and am finishing up my paramedic program. I am end goal looking to get into flight medicine. The companies I am farmiliar with is reach, and calstar.

I realize most companies want a few years as an experienced paramedic in a busy system (I work for AMR and plan to continue once I get my Medic).

Having said that, are there any companies that are easier to crack? Even if it means traveling (I’m thinking 3-4 hours, I know Reno has flight opportunities, but not sure on requirements?)

Or is there anything as a ground medic I could do to better myself?

Thanks
 

DesertMedic66

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The companies don’t prefer a couple of years, they require a minimum of 3 years and prefer 5+ years.
 

PotatoMedic

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If it is a CAMTS accredited program I doubt they will even look at your application without three years of experience as a paramedic as the CAMTS accreditation strongly reccomends/requires flight crews to have 3 years of experience. Some bump it up to 5.
 

VentMonkey

Ajaw
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The 3 year minimum requirement is just that— a minimum. Recall, as a flight paramedic the skills themselves take a backseat to most all other aspects of the job itself.

I think 5 plus years is a closer realistic timeframe for most paramedics, even in a busy “dynamic urban environment” with their skill-level. Now, this doesn’t equate to their level of clinical thought processes. Two entirely different things, as this typically sets apart the “flight medic” from the critical care paramedic.

The years required on paper can be a bit debatable, but again, you will be going into interviews with people who have perhaps decades-worth of field time, a degree (or multiple), previous flight experience, or all of the above. None of this is meant as discouragement, it’s plain and simple facts.

Any reputable company will have the minimum of at least 3 years; CAMTS requires this, as @PotatoMedic pointed out. So since your interested in flight medicine and are still seemingly new to this, start finding out what it is that will set you apart from all of those other candidates listed above and get to laying that foundation.

Oh, and as an aside CALSTAR is now part of the REACH family, who in turn is a subsidiary of AMGH. I think there’s some umbrella-ing (?) with AMR and AMGH as well.

It would probably help for you to dig into the backgrounds of said company that you’re interested in working for.
 

VFlutter

Flight Nurse
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As exciting as it is, HEMS is not something you should rush into. 3-5 years is the minimum for most however it is very individualized when someone is actually prepared for the job. Get high acuity experience, especially CCT, and learn as much as you can. Some hospital based programs, especially pediatric teams, will hire medics as MICU drivers and is a good way to get your foot in the door.
 

VentMonkey

Ajaw
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Get high acuity experience, especially CCT, and learn as much as you can.
This. And + 1 for not rushing into things.

Even without a degree, having immersed myself fully into any, and all things critical care (paramedic) related coupled with ground CCT experiences that exposed me to the environment firsthand—often for hours at a time with ICU-level patients—was most certainly invaluable experience in lieu of formal education.
 

DrParasite

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Get high acuity experience, especially CCT, and learn as much as you can. Some hospital based programs, especially pediatric teams, will hire medics as MICU drivers and is a good way to get your foot in the door.
What do you mean by high acuity experience?

At my former job, I worked occasionally as the CCT driver (typically EMT, nurse and medic), or PICU CCT (EMT, nurse, MD, maybe an RT), and in the former, many CCT transports were uber stable, and simply needed a heart monitor because they had a procedure scheduled for the morning. for the PICU transports, I didn't see many procedures done.

There were some unstable CCT runs (dissecting aneurysm was pretty memorable), as well as many of the STAT runs, but the "scheduled" ones were generally stable, which made up the bulk of the runs.

So, what type of experience, or rather, CCT experiences, would you want to experience prior to considering a flight job?
 

VFlutter

Flight Nurse
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What do you mean by high acuity experience?

At my former job, I worked occasionally as the CCT driver (typically EMT, nurse and medic), or PICU CCT (EMT, nurse, MD, maybe an RT), and in the former, many CCT transports were uber stable, and simply needed a heart monitor because they had a procedure scheduled for the morning. for the PICU transports, I didn't see many procedures done.

There were some unstable CCT runs (dissecting aneurysm was pretty memorable), as well as many of the STAT runs, but the "scheduled" ones were generally stable, which made up the bulk of the runs.

So, what type of experience, or rather, CCT experiences, would you want to experience prior to considering a flight job?
High Acuity meaning the patient requires critical care assessment, monitoring, or intervention. A CCT patient may be "stable" but still require critical care assessment and monitoring of the ventilator, vasoactive drips, invasive lines, cardiac devices, etc. They do not have to be crashing to be useful experience. However "Critical Care Transport" is a broad term and can be pretty liberal in it's definition. If they just needed a heart monitor and are not ventilated, have an A-Line/Swan, or whatever then it should probably be classified as an IFT not CCT.

In a perfect world you would have basic knowledge and working understanding of critical care topics and devices such as ventilators, invasive lines, cardiac assist, devices, etc before considering flight. IMO, HEMS is not supposed to teach you critical care but rather build on prior experience and knowledge, enhance understanding, and teach you the program specific policies and procedures. You should already be proficient, and even an expert, in most topics. Obviously there are certain things many people will not see outside of HEMS or specific ICUs.

I am biased but I think Critical Care experience is extremely important for HEMS. There are many ER nurses and 911 medics who succeed but for many it is a big learning .
 

7mary4

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I’d agree with the others. FP isn’t a starting point, it’s something you work to after putting in work in the field. Do 3+ years as a medic, get your critical care cert, keep going, see how it goes. Then start looking at flight ops.
 

Akulahawk

EMT-P/ED RN
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I think you'll find, as many have, that as you learn more, you'll learn just how much you don't know. I'm an ED RN with just over 3 years experience in the ED and I'm a Paramedic with 7 years experience in the field. Could I hop on an ambulance and get a sick patient to another hospital from my ED? Sure. I wouldn't be entirely comfy with it but I can do it. Do I feel comfortable at this point providing care for a very sick/unstable patient going from ICU to ICU? Not right now. Not even close to comfy.
 

paccookie

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I agree with what the others have said. Flight medicine is considered to be the pinnacle of the career of many medics and nurses. You don't reach that just after graduation no matter how smart and motivated you are. Get some good experience dealing with scene calls, high acuity transfers, and get some teaching experience. Study A&P and pathophysiology. Study pharmacology. Build your personal reputation by being eager to learn and treat all of your coworkers and supervisors with respect. You never know who they may know and you want any reference to you to be positive. Work hard, show up early, study hard, continue your education. I'm not saying go pursue a nursing degree, but there are many things you can do as a paramedic to continue your education. After you have some experience, take a critical care course and get your CC medic. Keep your alphabet certs up to date and pursue instructor status. Become an EMS instructor and at least assist with a class (an official adjunct instructor position looks really good on a resume and doesn't require you to work full time). Lastly, realize that anything worth obtaining takes time and dedication. If this is your dream, you'll get there, it just might take a while. Good luck.
 

akflightmedic

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I went to Nome, Alaska to be a Flight Paramedic. Just saying, if you want it bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. You have been given great advice (if you are still around and interested), follow it. The funny thing is, in pursuit of this goal you may discover you no longer want it. You may transition to RN and then Flight RN or decide to go Mid-Level, or MD. Who knows? As others stated, with proper pursuit of this position, you will quickly learn how little you know and how little you thought you knew. Critical Care medicine is quite humbling and those who are good at it are those who never stop asking questions, never stop studying, never stop learning. It simply becomes an almost full time endeavor.


Edited to add the fact that I took all the required Flight Medic classes after being a Paramedic for 8 years and did not become a Flight Medic until my 10th year as a medic.
 

GMCmedic

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Everyone has pretty much given you solid information and advice. The only thing I would add is research companies and dont settle for a one just because they will hire you with less experience when others won't. Those companies are likely taking shortcuts elsewhere.
 
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