HEMS Pre-Employment Question?????

CIRUS454

Forum Crew Member
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Hello everyone!!!!! After multiple attempts and several years, I finally got the phone call inviting me to go test for a big (well in my opinion they are big) Flight Program. I was instructed that it is a 3 part process. Written test, Hands on/Scenario test, and finally a Panel Interview. What are the topics that I should brush up on and/or make sure I am proficient in that would probably be on the tests????? I have been an ALS Paramedic for almost 16 years and a CCT Paramedic for a little over 5 years.

This question is so I can prove my co-worker wrong, and it is for the individual's that have been on the recommendation/hiring end of the process. If a candidate doesn't score well on the written and/or the hands on test but knocks it out of the park in the Panel Interview? Have you ever recommended/hired the candidate anyways because of the reason: You can bring someone up to speed on what knowledge/skills they were weak in, but you can't teach attitude, honesty, ability to work well with others, and personality?

Just curious. Thanks for all your help and time everyone!!!!!
 

VFlutter

Flight Nurse
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All critical care and trauma topics are fair game. Would definitely be proficient with CCT topics like ventilator management, invasive lines, and vasopressors.

Usually, the written test is first, then hands on, and finally panel. If you do not pass any part it ends there. Doesn't matter how personable a candidte is, they have to meet the minimum testing standards. If you fail, study and try again.
 

CANMAN

Forum Asst. Chief
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Hello everyone!!!!! After multiple attempts and several years, I finally got the phone call inviting me to go test for a big (well in my opinion they are big) Flight Program. I was instructed that it is a 3 part process. Written test, Hands on/Scenario test, and finally a Panel Interview. What are the topics that I should brush up on and/or make sure I am proficient in that would probably be on the tests????? I have been an ALS Paramedic for almost 16 years and a CCT Paramedic for a little over 5 years.

This question is so I can prove my co-worker wrong, and it is for the individual's that have been on the recommendation/hiring end of the process. If a candidate doesn't score well on the written and/or the hands on test but knocks it out of the park in the Panel Interview? Have you ever recommended/hired the candidate anyways because of the reason: You can bring someone up to speed on what knowledge/skills they were weak in, but you can't teach attitude, honesty, ability to work well with others, and personality?

Just curious. Thanks for all your help and time everyone!!!!!
I think it all depends on the program, how their orientation is structured, and where the service is located. I say these things as an opposite point of view as VFlutter, and some of this may be based on different locations and such.

Some places are just like VFlutter stated and want you to walk in the door and knock it out of the park, and if you're not up to that standard then they will interview until they find someone who is. Other programs want a solid level of competency but don't expect you to know everything coming in the door. If the service is located in an area where it is really difficult to recruit people with solid critical care experience it's often difficult to interview multiple people who are going to be performing on that upper level. This is where you will find places that are willing to hire for personality AND that solid level of competency but aren't expecting you to perform in a scenario with a balloon pump for example. I personally believe in the second type of system. The learning curve for critical care is steep and takes time but everyone has to start somewhere and there's alot of flight programs out there who miss out on great provider's because they weren't willing to take a chance.

I personally would rather precept someone who has a good background and is excited and willing to work hard and learn vs. someone who thinks they know everything there is to know about CCT and medicine. I have oriented 15+ people to different HEMS programs and often times the second type of provider isn't anywhere near as great as they think they are, or doesn't stick around long.

With all that being said HEMS positions are competitive, and you want to be on your A game but be honest about your experience. I would much rather someone say "you know what I haven't had alot of experience in RSI" for example than try to upsell and pretend to know what they're talking about and fail miserably. The first person is going to be honest and willing to accept teaching points, and likely work very hard to meet the bar during an orientation, and the latter is likely to have a difficult time accepting the harsh feedback if they ever were to get picked up somewhere. Thus why I prefer honesty.

Study up on all your standard ACLS and PALS type stuff. If you do or know about RSI that is a huge plus. Basic ventilator management, management of common type CCT transports such as head bleeds, aortic emergencies, trauma, shock, etc are all going to be fair game. Depending on the service the written could be extremely hard, or basic, so prepare for the worse there. I personally have never walked into a clinical interview where an A-line, SWAN, IABP, etc. has been present and I got grilled on it, and have worked at some fairly high speed places. I would also be prepared for some operational questions as well. Example: "Tell me about a time when you were on a call and something didn't go so well and what you did to manage it"? or "The sending MD and yourself have a disagreement on the treatment of an IFT patient, what would you do"?

In closing I don't love the saying "hire for personality and train for skill" because you do need to have a good amount of experience and knowledge coming in the door to be successful, but I do like "hire for personality and solid skills and we/I will train you to be great". Good luck, try to not be nervous. Take a few good breaths before you walk in and just be yourself. It sounds like you have a good amount of time under your belt and varied experience, I'm sure you will do well.
 
Last edited:

Remi

Forum Deputy Chief
Premium Member
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This question is so I can prove my co-worker wrong, and it is for the individual's that have been on the recommendation/hiring end of the process. If a candidate doesn't score well on the written and/or the hands on test but knocks it out of the park in the Panel Interview? Have you ever recommended/hired the candidate anyways because of the reason: You can bring someone up to speed on what knowledge/skills they were weak in, but you can't teach attitude, honesty, ability to work well with others, and personality?
First, you are kind of asking two different questions there. It's one to thing to overlook poor performance in the testing just because the candidate seems like a nice guy in the interview. It's a very different thing to hire someone who does well overall in the interview process, but just needs some training in one or two specific areas. The former is something that I hope would never happen. The latter happens all the time.

Second, as CANMAN said, every program is different and they may look for different things. At each of my HEMS programs we used experience / credential minimums and the written and practical tests to establish a baseline of knowledge and experience. The tests were a little more than basic paramedic stuff but weren't very difficult, so folks were expected to do pretty well on them. You might have never read a blood gas or used a vent or had RSI in your protocols as a street medic and that's all totally fine, but if you couldn't be bothered to read up on basic vent modes and normal ranges for an ABG and show up for a HEMS interview without even knowing the dosages and contraindications of common induction meds, then you probably aren't going to do well with us, given all there was to learn as a new flight paramedic.

Most people did fine on the testing, so the panel interview was really where it was at. That was our chance to try to get to know you and how you'd fit in to the program. We'd ask a lot of questions about your background and experience and if we got the feeling that you were hiding a weakness, we'd probe that. Lots of people did great in the testing but we just didn't feel like they'd be a good fit after talking to them for 15 minutes. With 25+ applicants (some very qualified) usually for every opening, we could be about as selective as we wanted to be.

So I wouldn't count on using the interview to make up for a weak performance in the testing, Maybe it'll work out that way, but most people get thought the testing OK (at least at all the programs i've been involved with), so your chances probably aren't good if everyone did better than you. The panel interview is actually where most folks get weeded out.
 
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CIRUS454

Forum Crew Member
62
4
8
I think it all depends on the program, how their orientation is structured, and where the service is located. I say these things as an opposite point of view as VFlutter, and some of this may be based on different locations and such.

Some places are just like VFlutter stated and want you to walk in the door and knock it out of the park, and if you're not up to that standard then they will interview until they find someone who is. Other programs want a solid level of competency but don't expect you to know everything coming in the door. If the service is located in an area where it is really difficult to recruit people with solid critical care experience it's often difficult to interview multiple people who are going to be performing on that upper level. This is where you will find places that are willing to hire for personality AND that solid level of competency but aren't expecting you to perform in a scenario with a balloon pump for example. I personally believe in the second type of system. The learning curve for critical care is steep and takes time but everyone has to start somewhere and there's alot of flight programs out there who miss out on great provider's because they weren't willing to take a chance.

I personally would rather precept someone who has a good background and is excited and willing to work hard and learn vs. someone who thinks they know everything there is to know about CCT and medicine. I have oriented 15+ people to different HEMS programs and often times the second type of provider isn't anywhere near as great as they think they are, or doesn't stick around long.

With all that being said HEMS positions are competitive, and you want to be on your A game but be honest about your experience. I would much rather someone say "you know what I haven't had alot of experience in RSI" for example than try to upsell and pretend to know what they're talking about and fail miserably. The first person is going to be honest and willing to accept teaching points, and likely work very hard to meet the bar during an orientation, and the latter is likely to have a difficult time accepting the harsh feedback if they ever were to get picked up somewhere. Thus why I prefer honesty.

Study up on all your standard ACLS and PALS type stuff. If you do or know about RSI that is a huge plus. Basic ventilator management, management of common type CCT transports such as head bleeds, aortic emergencies, trauma, shock, etc are all going to be fair game. Depending on the service the written could be extremely hard, or basic, so prepare for the worse there. I personally have never walked into a clinical interview where an A-line, SWAN, IABP, etc. has been present and I got grilled on it, and have worked at some fairly high speed places. I would also be prepared for some operational questions as well. Example: "Tell me about a time when you were on a call and something didn't go so well and what you did to manage it"? or "The sending MD and yourself have a disagreement on the treatment of an IFT patient, what would you do"?

In closing I don't love the saying "hire for personality and train for skill" because you do need to have a good amount of experience and knowledge coming in the door to be successful, but I do like "hire for personality and solid skills and we/I will train you to be great". Good luck, try to not be nervous. Take a few good breaths before you walk in and just be yourself. It sounds like you have a good amount of time under your belt and varied experience, I'm sure you will do well.
Sorry it took so long to for me reply to this. I thought I had it activated to alert me when there was a reply but I guess not..... Thank you very much for taking the time to give a thourough and detailed response covering every angle. I really appreciate it. It gave me a great understanding of the process from an interviewer's perspective!!!!!
 

CIRUS454

Forum Crew Member
62
4
8
First, you are kind of asking two different questions there. It's one to thing to overlook poor performance in the testing just because the candidate seems like a nice guy in the interview. It's a very different thing to hire someone who does well overall in the interview process, but just needs some training in one or two specific areas. The former is something that I hope would never happen. The latter happens all the time.

Second, as CANMAN said, every program is different and they may look for different things. At each of my HEMS programs we used experience / credential minimums and the written and practical tests to establish a baseline of knowledge and experience. The tests were a little more than basic paramedic stuff but weren't very difficult, so folks were expected to do pretty well on them. You might have never read a blood gas or used a vent or had RSI in your protocols as a street medic and that's all totally fine, but if you couldn't be bothered to read up on basic vent modes and normal ranges for an ABG and show up for a HEMS interview without even knowing the dosages and contraindications of common induction meds, then you probably aren't going to do well with us, given all there was to learn as a new flight paramedic.

Most people did fine on the testing, so the panel interview was really where it was at. That was our chance to try to get to know you and how you'd fit in to the program. We'd ask a lot of questions about your background and experience and if we got the feeling that you were hiding a weakness, we'd probe that. Lots of people did great in the testing but we just didn't feel like they'd be a good fit after talking to them for 15 minutes. With 25+ applicants (some very qualified) usually for every opening, we could be about as selective as we wanted to be.

So I wouldn't count on using the interview to make up for a weak performance in the testing, Maybe it'll work out that way, but most people get thought the testing OK (at least at all the programs i've been involved with), so your chances probably aren't good if everyone did better than you. The panel interview is actually where most folks get weeded out.
Like I said in my reply to CANMAN, I am sorry it took so long to for me reply to this. I thought I had it activated to alert me when there was a reply but I guess not..... Thank you very much for taking the time to give a thourough and detailed response covering every angle. I really appreciate it. It gave me a great understanding of the process from an interviewer's perspective!!!!!
 

akflightmedic

Forum Deputy Chief
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I have not been part of nor heard of programs which test all phases and then decide. I am sure it happens somewhere, however that is not a cost effective approach and is a big time waster for the candidate and the decision makers. Every municipal job and HEMS job I applied for in years past, fail any phase and that is it, no moving forward. In my opinion as a "boss", I agree with this approach as it ensures you are getting in theory the most book smart and hands on smart candidates for the final interview where personality is addressed.

I am currently coaching my son who is going through a 6 phase test process for a municipal 911 Telecommunicator position. Same process for him, fail at any phase, no invite to next phase.

I will say this, as I have said to him and every other candidate I have mentored in the past....EVERY single part of the process is an interview. EVERY single part.

From what time you show up, to how you dress, to how you interact, to how you present yourself overall. I do not care if you are showing up for a "quick skills test"....dress business casual at a minimum (unless specifically instructed otherwise), be early, lose the gum, shut off the phone when you arrive in the parking lot (better yet, leave it in the car). I do not care if you have half hour before your time slot, do not sit or stand in the hallway with head down, stuck in a phone. Have head up, eye contact, greet everyone. I myself have carried on conversations before with who I thought were other candidates....big surprise when I learned they were already part of the team and had basically just soft assessed me. It happens. Treat everyone with respect during every phase of the process. Treat every phase as if it is the ONLY phase, so dress and act accordingly.
 
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