If you desire a career that gets your adrenaline going, think about working on a team that performs extreme rescues. These groups are made up of professionals who evacuate people, usually via aircraft, from situations that are high risk for both patients and crew, such as remote mountain tops or dangerous seas. If this sounds like the perfect field for you, here are three pathways to employment.
Paramedic or Flight Nurse
Paramedics and nurses often work under normal conditions, but in a rescue situation, they are usually up in the air in a helicopter. A chopper allows them to get in and out of tight spaces that can't be reached any other way.
To work in either of these positions, you need to first complete training and prove you can handle the work on the ground. Paramedic programs usually award Associate degrees after several years, although you can complete the paramedic curriculum after earning another higher degree, too. Nurses who work on medevac flights are usually RNs (registered nurses) with experience in the emergency room and ICU (intensive care unit) as this gives them experience closest to extreme rescue situations.
Sometimes, even a helicopter can't land at an emergency site, and rescue jumpers must leap out, rescue victims, and bring them back up to the aircraft with them or send them up in a Stokes litter. Rescue jumping is often done on the high seas, as detailed in the book The Perfect Storm, and it is extremely hazardous.
Rescue jumpers need to be in superb physical shape and must be excellent endurance swimmers. Most rescue jumpers train in the military and continue to perform rescues with military organizations like the Coast Guard. There are few private opportunities in this career.
If you don't want to work with patients directly, consider becoming a medevac pilot. A medevac pilot flies the helicopter that retrieves victims in extreme rescues, so the flight crew can tend to the patients until they reach medical care on the ground.
While you may have to have some basic emergency medical training, the bulk of your education as a medevac pilot is in flight school. You'll learn the technical aspects of flying in addition to the math and science behind flight.
You can find aviation training in one of three ways:
There are advantages to each type of schooling. Private flight schools permit you to progress at your own pace, while secondary education programs let you finish with a degree. Talk to a school like the Institute of Aviation at Parkland College to find out what kind of program would be right for you.
Military training usually gives you the greatest number of flight hours in the shortest time, but you need to make a commitment to serve for a certain of time. Medevac employers want to see that you've logged a significant number of hours in the air before they hire you. You will also need high-level licensing from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). With all three types of training, you start with fixed-wing craft first before progressing to rotary wing aircraft (i.e., helicopters).
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