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Updated on April 30, 2011

Helicopter Transport Trauma Patients


When you or someone you love becomes critically ill or injured in an accident, you may have the good fortune of having a life flight helicopter transport them to a trauma unit in a major hospital. It is a scary thought that your loved one is in danger of dying but you can rest assured that when the life flight crew is in charge they have the best advantage of surviving.

No one wants this scenario to happen in their lives. In the last two years my family has had the unimaginable happen not once but twice.

First our 48 year old son-in-law had a major heart attack and had to be life flighted to Vanderbilt Hospital the week before Christmas. If the life flight program were not a reality, our son-in-law would not be alive today. Because of them, he arrived at the trauma unit of the hospital in record time.

A little over a year later, my husband had a hemorrhagic stroke in a remote area.  He had to be life flighted to St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville. Another near death experience but again we were blessed that my husband lived.

The life flight helicopters are twin engine aircraft and are IFR equipped. They have the ability to fly in inclement weather and they can often land directly at the scene of an accident or directly at a hospital

The life flight helicopters have a highly trained crew consisting of a pilot, a paramedic, and a flight nurse. They have to perform above and beyond the normal duties. They must have good communication skills as they do interact with communities during special events. I know they are required to take 22 hours of additional trainings throughout the year to enhance their knowledge.

In order to become a flight nurse, you have to have a minimum of 3 years of continuous critical care experience in an ICU or E.R. Department. One year of rotor wing air medical flight experience and one year as an EMT-P on an advanced Life Support Unit. A BSN is required.

You must be a graduate of a School of Nursing by the State Licensing Agency. An AS or diploma of nursing is required. You must be a graduate of an accredited EMT-Paramedic training program.

In addition, you need certification and licensing as required in the state where you work. In Tennessee you have to be licensed as a RN and an EMT-IV, BLS, ACLS, PALS, BTLS or PHTLS, TNCC or TNATC, CURRENT CEN, CCRN or CFRN.

A paramedic must have 5 years experience in the field and usually is a nationally registered paramedic holding instructor certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Basic Trauma Life Support, Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support, and Pediatric Advanced Life Support.

 There are many other requirements that may be in force from state to state. You need to be physically fit and mentally stable. You also need endurance, stamina, and alertness during 12 hour shifts or longer. Despite the sometimes gruesome aspects of their work, this career is highly prized because of the exciting nature of the job.

Our family is deeply indebted to the crews of the two Vanderbilt Life Flight helicopters that had a hand in saving the lives of our loved ones.








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