Join the Crew Newsletter. Over 23,187 signed up:

How to Fly Air Medical for One Day

How to Fly Air Medical for One Day

By Job Shadowing a Real Flight Nurse on Board a Multi-Million Dollar Trauma Helicopter

Is it really possible to fly air medical for one day? Sounds crazy, right?

I mean, c’mon, you can’t just walk over to your local air medical base and ask to ride along for a day, and have them say “yes?”

Or can you?

The answer will probably surprise you.

Most people agree the idea does sound crazy.

It’s crazy to think flying air medical for one day is even possible. The idea seems too far fetched. It’s so unbelievable that a lot of folks dismiss the whole idea. And it’s these same folks who miss one of the best kept secrets in the medical field.

What is the best kept secret in the medical field?

The best kept secret in the medical field is air medical fly-along day. A real world opportunity to fly along with your local air medical crew.

Don’t miss out.

Fly along day is real. And it really is the chance of a lifetime for many people.

Fly Real Cases, Treat Real Patients, Decide if Air Medical is Really for You

So what exactly is Air Medical Fly-along day?

Air medical fly-along day is a job shadow program offered by most air medical helicopter companies. A chance to see first-hand what flight nurses, flight paramedics and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) pilots do on a “typical” day. Air medical job shadow programs are just like any other job shadow program, except for one very neat exception –you get to fly!

You already know what job shadow means

Job shadow means you follow around (shadow) a professional working in a career field that interests you. For example purposes, lets say a kindergarten teacher. So if you were going to job shadow a kindergarten teacher, you would do everything he or she does to prepare, setup and teach kindergarten classes to kindergarten students.

Air Medical job shadowing works the same way. You follow along and watch what real flight crews do to prepare, setup and fly trauma patients from accident scenes to hospitals, and from hospital to hospital.

You spend a day flying with actual flight crew on board real trauma helicopters. You get to see what the crews do. And you get to ask the questions you always wanted to ask:

  • How fast does this bad boy go?
  • When and where are we getting gas? When do we eat?
  • How does the hospital know we’re coming?
  • Shouldn’t somebody let them know we’re going to land on their roof?

You get the idea.

Who Can Benefit from Air Medical Fly-Along Day?

You can benefit from air medical fly-along day, even if you’re not sure air medical is the right career for you.

And if you already have an interest in air medical careers; you owe it to yourself to do a fly-along day.

There is simply no substitute for actual helicopter flying when figuring out if helicopter flying is for you.

Does anybody else benefit from fly-along day? 

The answer is yes.

Your local hospital, the flight companies, and your local community all benefit from fly-along day.

This is one of the reasons air medical fly-along is possible. All three groups are trying to spread the word about the services they offer. All three groups need a certain amount of cases to sustain operations. All three groups benefit from the positive buzz and word of mouth advertising created through fly-along days.

Have I convinced you yet?  I hope so.

I Want to Fly… How Do I Get Started?

How do you sign up for air medical fly along day?

You sign up for air medical fly-along day the same way you sign up for any other job shadow program.

Reach out to your closest air medical program and get the details of what they require to fly along. If you’re starting from scratch, it might take a little digging to learn the local process. But if you’re serious about flying, you’ll find answers quickly (probably within the hour).

The most important thing is to take action. They’re not going to call you, right?

So you have to show initiative and give them a call, or visit, or whatever it takes.

Flying along for a day is more than just a crazy rumor. It’s real.

And it’s up to you to make it happen.

So get started. Your flight plan is waiting.

Pay It Forward

Does your local helicopter service offer fly-along days?

Give them some love. Share your local air medical program in the comments section below (and any other helpful info).

About the Author: Troy is an Air Medical Career Expert passionate about a team approach to improving air medical safety from the ground up. Troy is a former Army medic, Army pilot, Coast Guard pilot and EMS pilot. Troy has taught hundreds of wannabe flight medics, flight nurses and EMS pilots the exact steps needed to launch air medical careers.

Comments

  1. I’m not a wanna be I’m too scared to be I refuse to fly. But I got mad respect for those who actually are! Thank you ladies and gentlemen.

    • Mike,

      Nothing wrong with staying grounded. And you’re in very good company. The majority of Flight Safety Network keeps air medical safe from the ground … dispatchers, mechanics, firefighters, EMTs, medics, nurses, ER staff, security, and more.

      Good on you for knowing what’s right for you, and what’s not right for you.

      • Man that’s awesome. I live Flying… Not that I have Personally Flown, but I love being up in a helicopter even as a passenger, I’d love to get my pilot’s license and give back to the community and people in Need of Help. I’m getting older and always wanted to do it, My first flight was a Life flight after I was in a horrible car wreck on my Birthday and I do remember talking with the Piolet and he gor me to the other hospital inside of 12 mins and He said it was appropriate 20 min ride and I remember he said.. “I’m gonna get you there in about 12”. 😉 He was Awesome the whole crew.. I blacked out as I was over my town , in and out til we landed. I been up in lil birds since, but it’s bn a couple years and I crave it.. It’s a Rush for me. I’d love to do this for a day and look into getting my Piolet liscense and perhaps become a Piolet for the next 20 years or so. Thanks for the info.. and all you do. #helicopters🚁R🚁awesome

  2. Yes Care flight here in Reno Nevada does it. I think its once a year costs like a hundred dollars and you get a 20 min flight around the biggest little city.

  3. Lifeforce Air Medical out of Chattanooga, TN offers fly-alongs for EMTs/Paramedics/RNs/Drs. They have 4 bases with the main in Chattanooga out of Erlanger Medical Center. I’m a paramedic of almost 2 years (10 in EMS) and have recently flown with Lifeforce 1. Exceptional group of professionals! I am hooked on air medical as a future career choice and am making the suggested career choices/obtaining education now that will prepare me to apply in a few years. Really enjoy your newsletters and FB posts.

    Anthony

  4. Matthew Woodson

    Anyone know of fly along programs near Little Rock, AR? I am a nursing student in Searcy and dream of becoming a flight nurse one day. I’ve never been up in a trauma chopper. I know childrens hosp has 2 Sikorsky 76’s. I’ve toured them but they’re strictly transfer and don’t do ride alongs often. Anyone have any other leads?

    Thanks!
    An aspiring flight nurse,
    -Matt Woodson

  5. Adrian houston

    Becoming a pilot and a RN is my career goal. I would love to get my hands on an opportunity to “fly-along”. If you can give me the list of companies that have this program , that would be great. I live in the Reseda area of California, so I’m not sure if that will limit me. And if you have any strategies in helping me get hired into these air medical careers, that also will help me in the long run. Thanks

  6. I love to fly along one day be fun see what go on

    • Joel,
      Fly-along day is an awesome experience. And if you’re interested in air medical as a career, there is no better way to get a feel for flying than actually doing it. Good luck and let us know how you make out.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  7. How do I find my local air medical service so I can try to do a job shadow?

    • Hi Phil,
      There’s a couple ways to set this up. If possible, visiting in person is probably the best way to get all the information you need. If visiting a base isn’t an option, try calling the main switchboard number of local hospitals and asking them to transfer you to the appropriate department. It may take a little digging around to get to the right people. But it’s absolutely worth the time.

      Another good place to start is with our Crew Newsletter and free “The Flight Stuff” ebook. You can sign up here: http://flightsafetynet.com/the-flight-stuff-ebook/

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  8. For those of you that have never done it…GO FOR IT! I got my first taste of flying medevacs in 1982 and started by doing fixed wings. In 1991 after being a patient on my service for the second time in <10 years I started flying rotor wing flights…was one (of two) of the first full time medics in 1995 here and I have been FT since. This is the most exciting and rewarding job in EMS…I hope to retire here!

    • Hi Skip,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with Flight Safety Network. You are an inspiration for people just getting started.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds,

      Troy

      • Thanks Troy…you are doing a great job…I totally enjoy the site and what you are doing to get people started in Flight EMS! I am always available for questions to those in the Western New York area and can be reached through my service or by e mail…Mercy Flight of Western New York.

  9. Thomas Phillips

    Memorial Hermann Life Flight in Houston, Texas offers ride alongs. I’m not sure how to go about signing up, but I plan on doing a few in the summer when I’m home from school.

  10. Are there any air medical flight services near paintsville ky that offer ride alongs? I have always wanted to become a pilot and possibly work for air methods.

    • Amy,
      The Association of Air Medical Services lists 28 rotor wing (helicopter) bases and 1 fixed wing (airplane) base in the state of Kentucky for 2013. I am not familiar enough with the state to know the closest base to Paintsville, Kentucky. Start by calling the hospital closest to you and working outward from there. Good luck and let us know how you make out.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  11. Geisinger Life Flight, Danville PA has a ride along program at all five bases throughout Central and Eastern PA. The program is open daily March-May and Sept-Nov.

  12. ETMC Air One. Tyler, Athens and Mt Pleasant Texas.

    • Steven,
      Thank you. This will help folks get started. Also, and just for reader clarification: ETMC stands for East Texas Medical Center.

      Clear Skies and Tailwinds

  13. LifeNet of NY fully supports fly alongs.

  14. ARCH Air Medical in Missouri and Illinois

  15. Krystal Jones

    I would love to shadow someone one day.

    • Krystal,
      Our best advice is to schedule a fly-along day and ‘Just Do It.’ There are a couple other things to keep in mind if you’re already applying for air medical jobs or getting close to applying for air medical jobs. But if you’re just interested in seeing what air medical flying is about, just go for it right now. I hope this helps you.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  16. This is former VSP 37VA, BK 117. It now belongs to Indiana University.

  17. Looking for a flight unit near Little Rock, AR or Vero Beach, FL for a nursing student aspiring to become a flight nurse!

    • Matthew,

      Start with the ADAMS database of air medical helicopters or by calling hospitals in your areas of interest and asking for contact people in each perspective program.

      It sometimes takes a little bit of digging, but it’s always worth the effort. Let us know how you make out.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  18. All Indiana St Vincent’s Statflight (PHI AirMedical) bases have a ride along program! Just contact any of them for details. http://www.stvincent.org/statflight/

  19. LifeFlight in Des Moines, IA does! I did a ride a long 2 years in a row & then decided to take steps to become a flight nurse! And it worked, just finished LifeFlight orientation this past week!!!

  20. LifeFlight out of Bay State, Springfield,MA used to, don’t know if they still do. i would love to ride along with them.

  21. UNC CHAPEL HILL does and u have to be a member of public safety and under 200lbs and sign a wavier if dropped off on scene then find ur own way back to Chapel Hill.

    • Steve,

      Thanks for the information. Please understand “dropped off on scene” in almost all cases means dropped off with the ground EMS units who will give you a ride back to base. I don’t want to scare anyone away from a great opportunity. Good crews will make sure ride-alongs get back to base.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  22. What’s the best way to ask? Does it have to be on a certain day?

    • Kyle,

      If you have the means, the best way is to visit the base in person. They you get the benefit of meeting the local flight crew and getting first hand information about their fly-along program requirements.

      Generally, flight programs offer fly-along programs during specific seasons of the year. You’ll be given a couple options and pick the day that fits your schedule the best.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  23. Unfortunately the air medical service where I live now doesn’t do this. Not enough room. However where I uses to live in Lubbock Aerocare does it for ems students and nurses as we’ll.

  24. Medflight of Ohio not only allows fly alongs. They advertise it. Civilian or service provider.

  25. Arch Air Medical – St Louis. Lifestar-Joliet. REACT-Rockford. All Air Methods Bases. Can go to http://www.airmethods.com or http://www.airmethods.com/arch/about-us/ride-along-program#.U9WAQRko7qA

  26. yesssssss !!! and, i’ll be doing one with them this Saturday !

  27. Anyone know of a company that offers this in Pittsburgh PA?

    Thanks

  28. I just did one with LifeLink III in MN this past Saturday the 26th. It was an amazing experience going to a hospital I drive into so often from the top and not the bottom. 🙂

  29. Deuce!

  30. We do at TriState Careflight

  31. Heh, we have a waiting list at my base.

  32. heck no , and I even was a flight nurse-paramedic for 20 years , go figure

  33. Casey Kennedy did you see this?

  34. EMS and medical staff can schedule fly along days anytime with Guthrie Air, excluding weight limits and related concerns.

  35. Yes they do, But I haven’t done it yet.

    • Jeremy,

      Thanks for commenting. If you’re considering an air medical career, fly-along day is a great opportunity to find out your suitability. It’s not for everyone. Best of luck to you. Keep us updated.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  36. Of course they do 🙂

  37. I have flown with life net of Ny I learned a lot that day and it was well worth the experience to see if you could handle flying in a confined space or not. I recommend anybody who has ever thought of becoming a flight medic or trama Nurse to give it a try you might be surprised as to what you learn that day.

  38. JEFFSTAT here in the philadelphia area. Observed for a 12 hour shift and it was awesome. Got to run a scene call and hospital transfer and it got me hooked. Go on their website and theres a link for “observation shift”

  39. i want to fly………..please

  40. Aww, you photoshopped all the fun off of our A/C!

  41. Mercy One — Des Moines and Knoxville, Iowa

  42. Mercy One-Des Moines
    LifeFlight Des Moines

  43. LifelinkIII

  44. Stanford Lifeflight and CalSTAR

  45. PHI Med 4-1 in Modesto, CA. Does ride alongs

  46. Metro Life Flight, Cleveland Ohio

  47. Miami Valley Careflight and Medflight

  48. Anyone in California?

    • Jay,

      There are a lot of quality air medical programs in California. Some are mentioned in the comments above. Let us know how it works out for you.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  49. Life Flight, Toledo Ohio

  50. I did fly time with Metro Life Flight. MedFlight and Stat MedEvac also permit fly-alongs.

  51. Hey Troy! This is an awesome article. I’m in nursing school and one of my dreams is to take my interest of flying and passion for nursing and combine them! I live around Seattle Washington and was wondering if there are any flight opportunities that you might advise me toward. Or possible institutions that might have a program like this? I really interested in doing this, one day I hope I can be as qualified as you are! Thanks for the response in advance.
    John

  52. I wish

    • Kelli,

      Sometimes it takes a little traveling to hook up with an air medical program. For what it’s worth, all our members who have done so, say it’s absolutely worth the effort. Good luck to you.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  53. Yup!! Ride along with PHI MED 4-1 in Modesto, CA…

  54. Yep both Billings Clinic MedFlight and St Vincent HELP Flight

  55. San Antonio Air Life

  56. Vanderbilt LifeFlight

  57. PHI Air Med 4-1 in Modesto, CA

  58. Mercy Air, Southern California

  59. Not for the general public, but for anyone in Fire or EMS. MedCenter Air Charlotte NC and LifeNet South Carolina

    • Devin,

      An EMS or Fire background is always helpful when looking for fly-along opportunities. Some flight programs prefer to limit fly-along opportunities to folks who could potentially work with/for them in the future. Thanks for letting us know.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  60. Hey Troy! Wondering about who I could contact in SEATTLE about flight nursing shadows. Thanks!

  61. Hey Troy! I work in medical education in Madison, WI and always see the flight crews around the hospital. I have previously flown fixed wing aircraft and might want to see if flying helicopters, especially as a med flight pilot/professional is a possible career path I want to pursue. However, I don’t think they would let a non-medical professional fly with? Any insights on that? Or should I just contact them and ask? I guess it never hurts to ask.

    Thanks,
    Ian

    • Hi Ian,

      Thanks for a great question that I know lots of others are wondering about. In this case, your gut instinct is correct. It’s always better to ask (preferably in person) when you’re not sure of specific fly-along requirements.

      The answer to your question about whether air medical programs let non-medical professionals fly-along… Is that it depends. I know that’s not the answer you or anybody else wants to hear. But it’s the truth. It totally depends on the program, their current focus on outreach, their current staffing needs, etc, etc. All these factors are out of your control and nothing you should worry about.

      The best thing to do is contact the flight program directly. Let us know how you make out. I hope it works out for you.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  62. I’m rather familiar with ride alongs!

  63. I wish Medforce did fly alongs

    • Dennis,

      It’s a bummer when your hometown favorite doesn’t offer the opportunity. Realize the air medical service usually has good reasons for not offering fly-along days. The specific reasons vary from company to company.

      But . . . you can always travel to schedule a fly-along day. Almost everyone who does a fly along day raves about the experience. Something to think about.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

  64. AirLife Denver does.

  65. PHI MED 4-1 does in Modesto, CA. Go to their FB page

  66. Thank you for all you do!!!!

  67. U forgot Respiratory Therapist

  68. I’d be in the way.

  69. Wowwwww……..

  70. hell…..YES!!!! If no then why not??? Go Lady or Gent Nurse Medic Pilot’s. GO for it

  71. I flew several times way back decades ago……..at that time I was an Advanced EMT-A in OHIO. I really enjoyed the experience. Several people who I ran squad and fire with…..went on to become medics in the field. At that time my wife and I had three small boys at home. I’m happy to say that I completed 39 years in the educational field….and now retired. Great memories from the experiences.

  72. Ashley Phillips-Lee

    Have had the privilege to do two so far. Vanderbilt Life Flight has 6 bases in the state of Tennessee. Plus, if you don’t get a flight the day you are scheduled they allow for a reschedule to try to get a flight! You can fly once every 3 years and they require that you live within their coverage area but this is a loose requirement as they also house a jet for long distance transports at the Nashville airport. You can also fly it as well if you choose!

    Another opportunity is Huntsville Medflight based in Meridianville, AL. They serve the area of Huntsville, AL and some areas of Southern Tennessee. You can find info to fly on their website by Goodling it or call the base. You can fly once every 12 months.

    For both opportunities they require that you are actively involved in a emergency medical related field either paid or volunteer.

  73. Hello Troy! I am from the Houston area and very interested in Memorial Hermann’s flight nurse position. I am about to start the BSN program at UTMB and wanting to do a ride along. I literally have dreamt about it and really dedicated.

  74. … and thank you for your service!

  75. Does anyone know of any shadowing programs for air medical in northeast Ohio?

Speak Your Mind

*