A new enlistee can't become a flight medic immediately upon entering the Army. First, the active duty soldier must earn the rank of specialist, corporal or sergeant. National Guard or Reservist staff sergeants may also be flight medics. Students who don't have 20/20 vision must wear corrective glasses, not contact lenses. Other requirements for flight medic applicants include:
- At least one year of experience as a combat medic
- Passing a class 3 flight physical
- Volunteering for flight duty
- Graduating from high school or the equivalent
- Having at least two years of service time remaining
Flight medics learn their skills at the U.S. Army School of Aviation Medicine in Fort Rucker, Ala., although in wartime, it's not uncommon for a combat medic to learn flight medic skills through on-the-job training [source: Bearl]. To become a flight medic, a soldier must go through four weeks of training, which is broken down into two phases:
Distributed Learning: This is a Web-based training module that involves 33 hours of training in aeromedicine and aviation. Knowledge and Skills: This three-week phase covers various aspects of trauma management, pharmacology, medevac patient care, survival training and navigational situations.
The course finishes with a situational training exercise that allows students to practice the skills they've learned. Throughout the course, students also participate in physical training, including practice in water survival.
Like combat medics, flight medics need to know emergency medical procedures necessary for treating trauma in both adults and children. Additionally, flight medics need to learn the different types of aircraft systems and medical equipment used in medevac operations. They learn basic aviation skills and how to be part of an aircrew. They learn how to safely load a patient into an aircraft, including hoisting patients should the aircraft not be able to land.
Once soldiers pass the course and earn their wings as flight medics, they're assigned to a medevac unit and begin their new careers.
Read on for more information about Army flight medics.