Helicopter EMS


Holly talks about her background as a paramedic and flight nurse. Dan discusses certifications he obtained to become a flight paramedic. Holly discusses her path to become a flight nurse. The trio outlines similarities in protocols for flying a critical patient in the field. Holly touches on the importance of flying patients with time-sensitive presentations, be it medical or trauma-related.

Dan and Holly describe their typical day, and what their crew and individual agencies look like. The two talk logistics when responding to a scene call in the helicopter. The influence of weather on flying is discussed, and Holly goes over the limitations of IFR and VFR aircraft. Ground contact protocol and communication between ground units and the flight team are overviewed. Steve reviews a call from his agency and fields Holly and Dan some questions regarding logistics and patient care.

Learning Points:

  • Common certifications required/recommended to become a flight paramedic include: FPC (Flight Paramedic Certified), CCPC (Critical Care Paramedic Certified), ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program), PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support)
  • Common certifications required/recommended to become a fight nurse include: nursing degree, BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing), Certified Flight Nurse, Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics, Advanced Life Support: Burns, NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program), STABLE 
  • Experience is incredibly important when seeking a career as a flight paramedic or flight nurse 
  • Geographic location, patient presentation, and resources available all dictate whether a patient will be flown by helicopter
  • Keep in mind flight agencies will have weight limitations for crew members, and overall weight restrictions for patients
  • Putting a helicopter on standby ensures the entire flight crew and pilot are ready to be activated if needed
  • Daytime requirements for helicopter lift-off: 1,000ft ceiling, 3 miles visibility
  • Nighttime requirements for helicopter lift-off: 1,000ft ceiling, 5 miles visibility 
  • IFR: instrument flight rules
  • VFR: visual flight rules
  • Know how to locate and prepare a landing zone for the flight team
  • 100x100ft ideal for a landing zone
  • Active deliveries and combative patients cannot be flown

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Content Creator: Steve Williams
CAPCE Course Number: 20-EMTP-F3-4701
NJ Course Number: 141144
Total CE Hours: 1
Level: Basic