Troy Shaffer, Director, Flight Safety Network

And Why EMT is The Best Time to Start An EMS Helicopter Career 

Have you ever spent…

…half-an-hour searching

for your car keys?

Only to find them… in your hand?

Sounds crazy, right?

Why would anybody search for something they already have? And logically, it’s a no-brainer.

Nobody needs to “find” something already in their hand.


It happens.

And just recently, it happened to us at EMS Flight Safety Network.

Hiding Right In Front of Us

At EMS Flight Safety Network, we’re blessed to work with talented professionals. Folks who spend years learning nurse, paramedic, and pilot skills.

We get to see in real time what works, and sometimes more importantly, what does not work, when it comes to getting hired into air medical flight crew jobs.

But just recently, we missed the obvious….

We had all kinds of data right in front of us. Right in the palm of our hands.

And we still missed it…

Until now.

It took a “slap my forehead” moment to actually see it.

The 9th Flight Medic Hired This Month

The 9th flight medic hired was my moment. I remember thinking “she is really young.”

That was the “ah-ha moment” that led us to do some digging –and eventually led to this article and video training series .

We kept seeing coaching-student after coaching-student (in their 20s) get hired into air medical.

And until just recently, never saw the rest of the story.

The new hires were all young…really young.

At first, we thought young was the trend. But we were wrong. That wasn’t it. Once we looked closer, we found the trend, and specifically, four recurring traits in all of our 20-something new hires.

The Success “Secrets” of Air Medical New Hires

So what are the success secrets of air medical new hires?

First, a word about “secrets.”

The only reason I use the term “secret” is because it took us longer than usual to start tracking the data and discover the real reasons for our new hires’ success. Initially, the four recurring traits were a secret to us. That’s it.

But once we researched all our new hires’ backgrounds, it was obvious. And we want you to have the information.

We want you to use it to land your own air medical flight crew job.

Use it to make smart decisions about your own air medical future.

The Results Will Surprise You

Here is what we found:

Here are four success traits all of the young folks (in their 20’s) hired into air medical share:

1.) Well Connected

All were well-connected.

And when I say well-connected, I don’t mean in a “who you know” sort of way.

I mean well-connected in “how many” people you know.

All of our young people had huge networks of family and friends to call upon for any type of career advice, help or support. They were all comfortable with networking and using their networks and connections to their advantage.

All had social contacts in the hundreds, some had social contacts numbering into the thousands.

Lesson: The more people you know, the further you’ll go.

2.) Well-Liked

All the new hires were well-liked.

All were described by their peers, and supervisors, as team players. A person others looked forward to working with on a regular basis.

All were described as “helpers.” People who genuinely cared about their co-workers as much as their patients.

On the surface this may seem a no-brainer. People who are liked do better than those who are not liked.

In and of itself, this is hardly a revelation. Until you stop and think how often some people are difficult –just for the sake of being difficult?

Lesson: How you treat people makes a difference.

And “people” includes your co-workers, not just your patients.

3.) Self-improvement & Self-education

All our twenty-somethings were focused on self-improvement and education.

All were voracious consumers of personal and professional courses, classes, and seminars. Every single one was involved in some type of self-improvement and/or self-education project.

Many of our young folks were working on degree programs.  All were actively involved in their own personal and professional development. Some are simply members of Flight Safety Net INSIDER Training Program.

Lesson: Success in EMS & air medical is an ongoing learning process. As you grow, the learning changes. But it never stops.

4.) Wanted To Fly From The Beginning

All our recent new hires wanted to fly from the beginning.

They all worked hard, earned their certifications and put in “time on the street” to build their experience base. But with very few exceptions, all wanted to fly from the very beginning.

All thought of their ground careers as necessary stepping stones into aviation careers.

Lesson: Setting goals is smart.

I hope this information helps you. And I hope you realize how much time it can save you.

You don’t need to make all the same mistakes as the nurses, medics, and pilots who started before you. Learn from their mistakes (and triumphs) and shorten your own learning curve.

Hey, What About the EMT Stuff?

This article kicked off with a statement about why EMT is the best time to start an air medical career.

I started the article this way for two reasons:

  1. It’s true (I’ll explain in a minute)
  2. As soon as we launched the video training series, I got lots of “feedback” about air medical flight qualifications

A lot of Flight Safety Network followers got feathers ruffled about us saying the best time to start an air medical career is as an EMT.

These were the same fans and followers who didn’t watch the whole video.

The key is –EMT is the best time to start. We did not say EMT is the only required certification to fly. And for the record, it’s not.

But EMT really is the best time to start an air medical career.

Why EMT is the Best Time to Start

Why is Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) the best time to start an air medical career?

Because EMT is one of the initial medical qualifications.

The same logic is true for private pilot certification. And the reason is the same for nurses, medics, and pilots.

The reason is time.

Earning a flying job as a professional flight nurse, flight medic, or Emergency Medical Services pilot is a process. A process that takes time.

At Flight Safety Network, we turned the earn a flight job process into a step-by-step, connect the dots system.

Our system can save you time, but make no mistake, no matter how you choose to get started in air medical, a time commitment is required.

There are no shortcuts. If that’s what you were looking for, I’m sorry to disappoint.

But that’s also the reason EMT (and private pilot) is the best time to get started.

Starting early gives you the advantage of time.

Time is the Most Valuable Resource In Getting An Air Medical Job

Why is time so important?

Time is important because it gives you options.

More time = more options.

We believe anyone willing to put in enough time and effort –can eventually fly if they want to.

I hope this article helps you. Already feel like it helped? Awesome! That’s the whole idea.

Leave us a comment and let us know.


Are you serious about flying air medical? Check out our INSIDER Training program here, before the price goes up!

Troy Shaffer
Troy Shaffer

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.

    2 replies to "EMS Success Secrets of Helicopter New Hires"

    • Rob Parker

      Hayley Fargus you need to read this article!

      • Troy Shaffer


        Thanks for sharing. I hope Hayley finds the article helpful.

        Clear Skies & Tailwinds

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