FlightBridgeED Blog

How To Become a Certified Flight Paramedic

16.06.2022

Flight Paramedic Career Overview

Helicopter EMS (HEMS), also known as air ambulance services, are critical in saving lives. Air medical transport teams have to have the right experience, skills, and training. A certified flight paramedic is a professional in pre-hospital, critical care, and emergency healthcare.

If you’re ready to take your career in this direction, read on for everything you need to know before becoming a certified flight paramedic.


Requirements, and recommended education and training

STEP 1
Unrestricted paramedic license.

If you are not yet a Paramedic, you will need to become one first. There is a ton of foundational education you need to absorb at a basic, and even an advanced level so that you can better understand critical care medicine topics.

STEP 2
Minimum of 3 years of experience in EMS, or an EMS-related field.

Even if you don’t have the minimum experience level that many companies require, you can still begin learning now. If it’s your dream to become a Flight Paramedic, don’t let anyone or anything stop you from attaining your goal. It’s never too early to begin your training. What you learn today determines someone else’s tomorrow.

STEP 3
Pass your FP-C exam.

It is also recommended that you have some experience in critical care transport. Other specific requirements for training required for a Flight Paramedic position may vary based on the service you’re looking to work for.

What is CRITICAL CARE medicine and how is it different from regular pre-hospital emergency medicine?


According to the American College of Physicians, critical care medicine encompasses the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of clinical problems representing the extreme of human disease (“Critical care medicine”, 2022).

Generally speaking, emergency medicine is focused on the rapid assessment and treatment of acute illness and injury. Critical care medicine is conducted in very structured and controlled settings for the sickest of the sick who require a precise regimen of treatment over a longer period of time from a multitude of specific medical disciplines.

An understanding of pre-hospital emergency medicine AND critical care medicine is required to be an effective Flight Paramedic. FlightBridgeED was created to bridge the gap in Paramedic training by augmenting traditional pre-hospital education and expanding knowledge into critical care medicine.


Get Certified to Become a Flight Paramedic (FP-C)

Certification for Flight Paramedics is issued through the International Board of Specialty Certification (IBSC). Click here for more information on the Certified Flight Paramedic (FP-C) credential, the exam, and other related topics. This is the most widely accepted certification for Flight Paramedics. CAMTS accredited air medical services require Flight Paramedic certification in order to be hired, or to continue functioning as a Flight Paramedic after a specific period.

If you have the experience part taken care of, your next step will be passing the Flight Paramedic (FP-C) exam. This exam is notoriously difficult to pass and is designed to rigorously test your mastery of a massive range of knowledge – it’s also expensive. That’s why the International Board of Specialty Certification (IBSC) recommends attending an approved review course prior to sitting for your exam attempt.

Becoming a Flight Paramedic is a dream job, but passing your advanced certification exam can be a nightmare. Traditionally, you need years of experience and really enjoy power-reading stacks of textbooks. After that, you had to hope you studied the right content, from the right instructor, and remember it all long enough to pass the test. We can help you! FlightBridgeED is the #1 online FP-C exam review course provider. Your success is our commitment!

Once you’ve completed your review course and attempted some of our practice exams you can schedule your certification exam with the IBSC. The exam is taken in person at designated, proctored testing centers around the world. The exam consists of 135 questions (25 of which are trial questions and do not count toward your overall score) and requires. You are given 2.5 hours in which to complete the exam and you will only receive a PASS, or FAIL at the end (no numerical score).

Overview of the content you will need to MASTER in order to successfully pass your Flight Paramedic (FP-C) exam:

Safety and Transport

Aircraft operations, aerodynamics, aircraft performance, emergency procedures (e.g., fire, de-pressurization, IIMC), landing zone operations, obstacle avoidance procedures, survival techniques, weather patterns, refueling operations, personal wellness (e.g., fatigue, fitness for duty), hazard reporting, communication and radio operations, safety and restraint systems, pre-flight check, passenger briefing, risk assessment, night vision goggle operation (NVGO), GPS and navigation.

Flight Physiology

Gas laws, hypoxias, stressors of flight, altitude injuries, time of useful consciousness (TUC), pressurized versus unpressurized aircraft cabins.

Airway, Anesthesia, and Analgesics

Airway assessment, anatomy, and physiology, pharmacology, passive oxygenation, failed airway, surgical airway, mechanical ventilation, alternative airway devices, peri-intubation arrest, special airway considerations (e.g., tracheostomy), tube confirmation and monitoring, airway suctioning, waveform capnography monitoring, non-invasive positive pressure ventilation.

Medical Emergencies

The endocrine system, adrenal system, renal system, metabolic, sepsis, infectious disease, toxicology, blood products, gastrointestinal, lab values (e.g., CBC, coag, BMP, ABG, cardiac panel), advanced medical assessments, treatment modalities, invasive line procedures, radiographic interpretation, respiratory system (e.g., Krebs cycle, oxyhemoglobin disassociation curve, intrathoracic pressure).

Neurological

Neurological assessment, seizures, altered mental status, cerebral ischemia (e.G., large vessel occlusion), neuroprotective strategies (e.g., positioning, hemodynamics, EVD management), cerebral hemorrhage, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, neurological diagnostics (e.G., ct scan), lab values (e.g., coag panel, BMP), pharmacologic agents, monitoring equipment (e.g., ICP monitor).

Cardiac

Multi-lead interpretation, anatomy, mechanical support device (e.g., Impella, ECMO, VAD, IABP), acute coronary syndromes (ACS), cardiogenic shock, heart failure, infectious cardiac disease (e.g., pericarditis, endocarditis, valvular disease), arrhythmias, hypertensive crisis, hemodynamic instability, chronic cardiac conditions, vascular disorders (e.g., AAA, thoracic dissection), electrophysiology, cardiac diagnostics (e.g., ultrasound, cardiac echo), lab values (e.g., cardiac panel), pharmacologic agents.

Trauma and Burns

Trauma/burn diagnostics (e.g., CT X-ray, ultrasound), lab values, pharmacologic agents, monitoring equipment, surgical interventions, blood product administration and management, the lethal triad of trauma, fluid resuscitation, burns (e.g., thermal, electrical, chemical, radiological, fluid resuscitation), toxic inhalation injuries.

Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal

Maternal-fetal and neonatal diagnostics (e.g., tocodynamometer), lab values, pharmacologic agents, monitoring equipment, complications of delivery (e.g., cord prolapse, placental abruption), multiple-birth, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, premature rupture of membranes (PROM), maternal, neonatal.

Pediatric

Pediatric diagnostics, lab values, pharmacologic agents, monitoring equipment, airway disease (e.g., croup, RSV), nonaccidental trauma, fluid/electrolyte replacement, metabolic emergencies (e.g., DKA), special needs (e.g., developmental delays, autism spectrum, hematology-oncology), high-tech (e.g., home vent), infectious disease (e.g., meningitis, re-emergent diseases), airway and ventilator management.

Professional Considerations

Common accreditation standards, research design, methodologies, and terminology, privacy considerations, JUST culture, evidence-based medicine, ethical considerations (e.g., end of life considerations, DNR), gamut metrics, caregiver PTSD and suicide risk.

Information courtesy of the Internation Board of Specialty Certification (IBSC) FP-C Candidate Handbook (2021-2022).


Never Stop Learning and Become a Mentor for Someone Else

If you want to know how we used to treat patients read a textbook, if you want to know how we are treating them now read a professional journal, and if you want to know how we will treat them in the future listen to podcasts, read blog articles, go to professional conferences; find experts in a discipline and ask them to teach you everything they know. We say we “practice” medicine because there is always something new to learn. In the fast-paced profession of a flight paramedic, it’s important to constantly learn and grow. Just as you studied to become a paramedic initially, you need to continue to study and hone your skills every day. Throughout your career, you’ll always need to have a mentor who will help guide you and teach you. A mentor is INVALUABLE. They have been where you want to go and they can show you the way to get there.

Once you become a Flight Paramedic, just as with your professional license, there are requirements that you will need to complete every 4 years in order to maintain your certification. The International Board of Specialty Certification (IBSC) has a 100% audit policy – that means they will approve and confirm every single CE hour that you earn. You’ll still have to maintain your paramedic license requirements (ACLS, PALS, CPR, TRAUMA, etc.) and those will not count toward your advanced certification hours because they are not critical care CE hours. You will also need to enroll and complete another Certified Flight Paramedic (FP-C) review course during your recertification period. All of our hours at FlightBridgeED can be used for ALL OF YOUR CERTIFICATIONS & LICENSES (your professional license, National Registry certification, and your Advanced Certifications).

It’s important to pass on what we learn to the next generation. The mentors that you have in your life right now won’t always be there. It’s a sobering thought to realize the responsibility of carrying on the wisdom of those who have come before us and the wisdom we have gained on our own. Never stop seeking wise counsel – never stop seeking a mentor, and never stop being a mentor to others so that you can pass on your legacy to those who come after.

Here is a heavily requested podcast with some great points to get your career started. Give it a listen!


This is a unique podcast that takes a look at the road to becoming a Flight Paramedic. I’m joined by the original co-founder of FlightBridgeED, Evan Claunch. We have received numerous podcast requests on the topic – What is the best way to achieve the position of Flight Paramedic? What a better way to honor Evan as he moves into a new career and leaves the HEMS industry behind, but to have this discussion with him. Evan and I discuss the best ways to achieve these tough-to-find positions. Take a journey with us as we dive into the best way to obtain a flight position and be prepared for these challenging clinical positions.


We’ve Designed Our Entire Business Around YOUR SUCCESS

Pass Your Exam With the #1 Flight Paramedic (FP-C) Exam Review Course

The FlightBridgeED Flight Paramedic (FP-C) Exam Online Review Course is the only study system that offers real-world insight from experienced experts with decades of experience in critical care medicine and as professional educators. Our course includes over 48 CE hours of 100% online, self-paced modules covering 17 topics, comprehensive practice exam simulation, course review textbook, and study guides that will help you master everything you need to pass the Certified Flight Paramedic (FP-C) exam.

Your Success is Backed By Our EXAM PASS COMMITMENT

No review course provider can guarantee your success on your exam attempt. We don’t make impossible promises – our team values honesty and integrity. As much as we would like to, we simply can’t make a GUARANTEE, but we can make a COMMITMENT. If you are unsuccessful on your exam attempt, we will assign one of our education team members to you as a personal mentor/tutor and enroll you in an instructor-guided review course at NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU. No other review course provider provides this kind of one-on-one tutoring offer. Our highest priority is your success and our promise is to help you achieve it. If you want to become a Flight Paramedic (FP-C) then you can’t afford not to take this course!

The BEST study tools for your success

It’s difficult to predict which study tools will work best for you without having some experience with these difficult advanced certification exams. Unlike other programs, our certified flight paramedic (FP-C) Online Exam Course was designed by a team of expert educators with decades of experience in critical care practice and preparing paramedics to pass these difficult exams. You’ll have access to our carefully crafted and curated set of study tools that will skyrocket your chances for success on your advanced certification exam.

We’re Committed to Helping You Become a Certified Flight Paramedic (FP-C).


When You Fly, You Become Part of a Family

This is true of any field in the medical profession, but it is especially true of medical flight teams. It’s a stressful career with long hours and high stakes. But for flight paramedics, flight nurses, and pilots, the entire crew becomes family. That means when you’re in the air, or on the ground, you look after each other. It’s important to separate your personal life and your work life and to have balance. Problems at home can’t stop you from performing when someone else’s tomorrow is at stake. When you are on a scene call, you are likely the highest trained medical provider for miles. Sometimes when you are on interfacility transports you may not be the highest trained medical provider, but you may be the person who sees things differently, through the lens of your experience, and saves the life of someone at just the right moment. That might sound scary, or like a heavy responsibility (and it definitely is) but that’s the job and it should never be taken alone. No matter what happens the person next to you has to know that they can rely on you, just as you rely on them. Medical flight teams are always there for one another at the bedside, or at the base – even if that means staying up late into the night to help someone who needs them more than ever before.

Conclusion

Becoming a Certified Flight Paramedic is more than just an exciting job… It’s a lifestyle. It’s challenging, it’s gratifying, it’s tough, but it’s worth it. You can make a difference in people’s lives in a way that no one else can. Passionate about helping people? Interested in aviation? Want to make a difference in the world? A Certified Flight Paramedic is the perfect job for you.