The medical flight crew consists of two flight nurses or a flight nurse and flight paramedic. The crew trains in aeromedical patient transport with specialized skills in intubation, surgical airway, needle thoracentesis, pericardiocentesis, transtracheal jet ventilation for critical patients care. All flight nurses and paramedics have a minimum of three years of critical care experience with currency in the following certifications:
- Trauma Nurse Specialist or Trauma Nurse Core Curriculum
- Prehospital Registered Nurse Certification
- Basic Trauma Life Support or Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support or Emergency Nurse Pediatric Course
- Neonatal Resuscitation Provider
Many maintain national certifications such as Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN), Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN), or Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) or Nationally Certified Flight Paramedic (FP-C) in addition to the required certifications. Specialty teams are utilized for maternal (high-risk obstetrics) and neonatal (high-risk premature infant) services. All members are involved in pre-hospital, hospital and regional staff education.
OSF Life Flight provides teams for critical-care ground transport of patients and will aid in arranging ambulance transportation with Flight RN support if indicated.
Want To Be A Flight Nurse?
What could be more exciting than providing quality critical care to the sickest of patients in an unstable transport environment? That's what flight nursing is, and it's what's gaining popularity among critical care nurses who traditionally have worked in the ICU or Emergency Department setting.
What Does it Take to Become a Flight Nurse?
Critical care experience – a minimum of three years of it to be considered for a position with the Peoria program. Many of the nurses have much more than this, but this is the one standard that must be met before being granted an interview.
Those inquiring about flight positions mistakenly believe that our service is an air paramedic service, but this is not the case. Approximately 92 percent of all service missions are interfacility transfers. This means that a critically ill or injured patient is transferred from one hospital's ICU or ED unit to a facility capable of providing a higher level of care. It is in these types of situations that demand an aircraft be staffed by competent critical care RN's.
Beyond three years of critical care experience, flight nurses must possess (or acquire within six months of hire) the following certifications: ACLS, BTLS or Prehospital Trauma Life Support, PALS or Emergency Nurse Pediatric Course, NRP, and TNS or Trauma Nurse Core Curriculum. Also, flight nurses are trained in field skills such as rapid sequence oral intubation, placement of surgical airways, needle chest thoracentesis, pericardiocentesis and intraosseous needle placement. Flight nurses must complete yearly airway labs, prove competencies for all types of patient age groups, and attain a minimum of 22 hours of continuing education hours on critical care related topics yearly.
The role of the flight nurse is not limited to patient care and technical skills. Nurses must demonstrate excellence in communication and customer service skills. They must be willing to participate in community service events and participate in the education of prehospital and hospital care providers. Flight nursing is an "above and beyond" type of job.
OSF Life Flight maintains high standards for nurses who have a vision for this type of work. A high standard for quality care assures us that those whose lives are entrusted to us are in the very best of hands. Excellence, a standard which OSF Life Flight has maintained since its start in 1984.
Flight Nurse Guidelines
- Three years of critical care nursing experience in an ICU or ED.
- Possess excellent clinical assessment skills.
- Seek opportunities to develop independent decision-making skills, i.e., charge role.
- Demonstrate an ability to problem solve and be resourceful.
- Obtain certifications and seek educational conferences and opportunities related to transport.
- Prehospital care experience, i.e., EMT training, Prehospital RN course.
- Develop public speaking skills.
- Obtain nationally recognized certifications, i.e., CEN (Certified Emergency Nurse), CFRN (Certified Flight Registered Nurse), or CCRN (Certified Critical Care Nurse).
To learn more about this unique critical care role or inquire about other nursing career opportunities afforded at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center, please contact our recruiting specialists at (309) 655-4008 or (309) 655-2036, or complete our online application.
Pilots and Mechanics
OSF Aviation is staffed with 14 pilots, seven mechanics, five communications technicians and 38 medical staff professionals. The active fleet currently consists of four American Eurocopter EC 145 helicopters. Each helicopter can transport two patients, if necessary, as well as two pilots and two members of the medical crew.
Pilots are required to possess a minimum of 2,000 hours of helicopter pilot-in-command time, an FAA commercial helicopter certificate and current instrument rating. The mechanics receive mandatory annual maintenance training to maintain currency with aircraft and maintenance procedures. Aircraft are hangared on-site with the capability to perform minor and major maintenance requirements.
Communications is the framework that binds the components of an EMS system together. The communications system links one emergency health care provider with other members of the emergency health care team 24 hours a day. The heart of any EMS system is the communications control center. If this control center is the cornerstone of the EMS system, then the dispatcher is the key to the control center.
At OSF Life Flight, this department is called Flight Com, and is staffed with medical transfer specialists whose minimal training begins at the EMT-basic level; with many having obtained NAACS flight communicator certification, the industry standard for specialized training for helicopter emergency medical service dispatch.
Computers, sophisticated electronics including GPS satellite navigation tracking, telephones, computerized road and navigational maps, computerized radio consoles and a flip chart of standardized dispatch policies and procedures surround them.
Two or more transfer specialists staff the control center at all times. They work to assure rapid patient access to a reliable and effective EMS system. All dispatch and flight following for OSF Life Flight are done through MedComm; as well as MedComm fields aeromedical traffic calls for aircraft inbound to OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center helipads. Their job is a critical link in the communications between multiple EMS units in the Peoria EMS System.