One of the questions often asked about AirLIFE is “What are the qualifications needed to become an AirLIFE crew member?"
Although the work here at AirLIFE is enjoyable and offers many rewards, we demand a lot from each crew member; clinical expertise, knowledge and experience of the working environment, ability and comfort working with a wide variety of personnel in sometimes extremely adverse conditions, and above all, superior organizational skills.
There are certain basic qualifications and certifications that a potential crewmember must possess prior to being considered for a flight position. San Antonio AirLIFE requires that every crewmember hold current certifications in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and at least one of a number of trauma courses to include: Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS), Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS), and the Trauma Nurse Core Curriculum (TNCC). Instructor certification in any of the listed courses is an extremely helpful as well. Nurses applying for positions at AirLIFE are required to possess Certified Flight Nurse (CFRN) and Paramedics are required to have Flight Paramedic, Certified (FP-C).
Once on board with AirLIFE the new crewmember can expect quite a bit of continuing education and training in addition to regular crew duties. AirLIFE sends each crewmember to audit the Advanced Trauma Life Support Course (ATLS) and complete an extensive in-house training program with classroom, clinical, and field rotations. The new crewmember must display knowledge of, and clinical competence in many different advanced procedures including central line placement, chest tube placement, surgical and needle cricothyrotomy, advanced airway techniques, pericardiocentesis, Intra-aortic Balloon Pump maintenance, and management of the ventilator patient. If it seems like a real plateful, well, it is.
The reason we ask so much of our crew is a simple one: we want the patients that we transport and the medical professionals that call us to have every confidence that they are being served by a top-notch, knowledgeable, and competent crew. We would ask the same if it were our family members being transported and we promise to provide the best.
Yes, we are looking for experienced nurses and paramedics; the average experience level at San Antonio AirLIFE is fourteen years, ranging from seven to twenty six years. With all of that experience in mind, it comes naturally that AirLIFE recruits personnel that enjoy teaching and have a certain flair for speaking in front of groups of people. Attend a class or seminar presented by AirLIFE personnel and you will quickly realize how valuable an asset these people are to our program. We look for people with a varied background in medicine. One of the challenging aspects of AirLIFE, and EMS in general, is the excitement of not knowing what the next call will be. We transport a wide range of patients; neonatal to the multiple-trauma patient, the victim of severe burns to the hemodynamically compromised cardiac patient.
Organizational skills are probably the most important quality that a potential crewmember can bring to AirLIFE. The ability to sort through the chaos and confusion at a scene, to assess a patient or patients and quickly determine the treatment needed, and to organize resources to best care for the patient are paramount. Being proactive versus reactive, having clear communication with your partner, remaining calm and objective and being open-minded enough to entertain different points of view.
You really have to want to do this job. Sometimes it isn’t so easy; it can be dirty, hot, bloody, and sweaty. But there are rewards. You get to fly in an incredible machine outfitted with the latest in medical and aviation technology; you get to perform at the peak of your abilities, and you get to work with one of the finest groups of people, anywhere, doing a job you love.