Quote from TraumaBSN
Any one work as a nurse on helicopter emergency transfers?? How did you get there, and what should I do to get there?
*** I work (casual, used to be full time) for an transport service that includes two helicopters and a number of ground ambulances in different locations. We run with an RN & parmedic team, the RN is team leader.
This service does not accept ER experience. All of our RN were hired from the SICU of the hospital that owns the service. In that hospital it is SICU nurses who respond to the trauma bays for trauma team activations. The ER staff are there to record vitals and run and fetch things. Thus it is the SICU RNs who get all of the trauam experince. As many of our transfers are acute medical and not trauma MICU experience is highly desirable, as is PICU. In this hospital it is very easy for SICU RNs to be cross trained and work in MICU and PICU, the hospital encourages it. The down side is that they will then use you as an ICU float pool. Most of our RNs are not paramedics but go through a pre-hospital training program when hired.
My advice it to get a job in the highest level ICU you can and if you can't take what you can get and use it as a stepping stone to higher levels of care. Getting training as EMT through paramedic is a good idea. Probaly the best way is to work in the ICU of a hospital that has it's own transport service and get to know the people who run the transport service. Most importantly build yourself a reputation as a top nurse. Always volenteer to care for the sickest patients and continue your learning. Get your CCRN and CEN certifications. Be a real team player. It's a very small team out there doing some hairy stuff. it doesn't work without team work and they look for a team player as well as leadership potential
BSN is not prefered or discriminated aginst in our service. Several of the other casual transport nurses are actually advanced practice nurses. We have several NPs and a couple CRNAs who still keep their toe in transport cause it is so much fun. I take a $14 an hour pay cut to do it compaired to my full time rapid response job inside a different hospital.
One of the things I know they look for is a nurse who can apply the "variable leadership principal" (I just made that up for lack of a better way of describing it) What they want is a nurse who can be a great team players, but if the situation requires it provide leadership and know when to back off on the leadership. For example many of our transports are from small rural hospital ERs to big hospital ICUs. When we arrive in these little hospitals you never know what you will find. Many times we have arrived to find the ER provider (MD, DO, NP, PA) in a total panic and not managing the situation effectivly. In that case we step in and provide effective leadership. Other times we arrive and find things well in hand and a very effective provider running the show (we alwasy try to stablize before loading on the aircraft or ambulance). In that case we back off on the leadership and function as highly skilled team members. It's a fine line to walk and doing it right is an art.