A Flight Nurse
is traditionally a specialty where highly trained Registered Nurse
A registered nurse is a nurse who has graduated from a nursing program at a university or college and has passed a national licensing exam. A registered nurse helps individuals, families, and groups to achieve health and prevent disease...
s provide comprehensive prehospital and emergency and critical care to all types of patients during aeromedical evacuation or rescue operations aboard helicopter and propeller aircraft
Aircraft propellers or airscrews convert rotary motion from piston engines or turboprops to provide propulsive force. They may be fixed or variable pitch. Early aircraft propellers were carved by hand from solid or laminated wood with later propellers being constructed from metal...
or jet aircraft
A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines. Jet aircraft generally fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes – as high as . At these altitudes, jet engines achieve maximum efficiency over long distances. The engines in propeller-powered aircraft...
Flight Nurses are frequently paired with Flight Medics and Registered Respiratory Therapist
A Registered Respiratory Therapist is a cardiopulmonary therapist and specialist who is required to exercise considerable independent clinical judgment in the respiratory care of patients...
s as a comprehensive emergency and critical transport team.
Role and Duties of a Flight Nurse
The Flight Nurse performs as a member of an aeromedical evacuation crew on helicopters and airplanes—providing for in-flight management and nursing care for all types of patients. Other responsibilities include planning and preparing for aeromedical evacuation missions and preparing a patient care plan to facilitate patient care, comfort and safety.
Flight Nurses evaluate individual patient's in-flight needs and request appropriate medications, supplies and equipment, providing continuing nursing care from origination to the destination facility. They act as liaisons between medical and operational aircrews and support personnel in order to promote patient comfort and to expedite the mission, and also initiate emergency treatment in the absence of a physician during in-flight medical emergencies. Flight nurses have expertise in mechanical ventilation, hemodynamic support, vasoactive medications, and other intensive care skills. Flight nurses most commonly work collaboratively with Flight Paramedics.
Education and Training
Flight Nurses are Registered Nurses and have post-graduate training in Intensive Care and/or Emergency Nursing. They are also required to hold current Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Neonatal Resuscitation certification. Generally, Flight Nurses are required to have at least 5 years of experience in a critical care hospital setting (ER, ICU, etc) and often are also required to hold qualifications in Midwifery. [Respiratory Therapy|Respiratory Therapists]] have become a frequent pairing with a Flight Nurse beginning around 2005 in both urgent/critical transports as well as emergency helicopter transports.
Flight Nurses, Flight Therapists, and Flight Medics enjoy a great deal of autonomy with extensive allowances in protocols for various emergency situations due to the nature of the practice.
Flight nurses may obtain board certification in Emergency Nursing (CEN), Flight Nursing (CFRN), or Critical Care (CCRN). Flight Therapists may obtain Adult Critical Care Specialist (ACCS), Neonatal Transport Specialist (NPT) and Neonatal Pediatric Specialist (NPS).
Civilian Flight Nurses
Civilian Flight Nurses work for hospitals, Federal, State, and Local governments, private medical evacuation firms, fire departments, and other agencies.
Military Flight Nurses
The military flight Nurse performs as a member of the aeromedical evacuation crew
A crew is a body or a class of people who work at a common activity, generally in a structured or hierarchical organization. A location in which a crew works is called a crewyard or a workyard...
, and functions as the senior medical member of the aeromedical evacuation team on Continental United States (CONUS), intra-theater and inter-theater flights - providing for in-flight management and nursing care for all types of patients. Other responsibilities include planning and preparing for aeromedical evacuation missions and preparing a patient positioning plan to facilitate patient care, comfort and safety
Safety is the state of being "safe" , the condition of being protected against physical, social, spiritual, financial, political, emotional, occupational, psychological, educational or other types or consequences of failure, damage, error, accidents, harm or any other event which could be...
Flight Nurses evaluate individual patient's in-flight needs and request appropriate medications, supplies and equipment
Medical equipment is designed to aid in the diagnosis, monitoring or treatment of medical conditions.-Types:There are several basic types:* Diagnostic equipment includes medical imaging machines, used to aid in diagnosis...
, providing continuing nursing care from originating to destination facility. They act as liaison between medical and operational aircrews and support personnel in order to promote patient comfort and to expedite the mission, and also initiate emergency treatment in the absence of a physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...
for in-flight medical emergencies.