Flight nurse

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The first United States Navy Flight Nurse, Jane Kendeigh[1]

A Flight Nurse is a registered nurse who specialises in the field of providing comprehensive pre-hospital, emergency critical care and hospital care to a vast scope of patients. The care of these patients is generally during aeromedical evacuation or rescue operations aboard helicopters, propeller aircraft or jet aircraft. On-board a rescue aircraft you would find a flight nurse accompanied by flight medics and respiratory practitioners, as well as the option of a flight physician for comprehensive emergency and critical transport teams. The inclusion of a flight physician is more commonly seen in paediatric and neonatal transport teams.[2]

Roles and Duties

A Flight Nurse is required to complete a copious amount of duties each and every call out. Listed below is a comprehensive list of these duties and responsibilities:

  • Flight Nurses perform as a member of an aeromedical evacuation team on helicopters and propeller or jet aircraft
  • Responsible for planning and preparing for aeromedical evacuation missions
  • Expedite mission and initiate emergency treatment in absence of Flight Physician
  • Provide in-flight management and nursing care for patients
  • Evaluate individual patient in-flight needs
  • Liaison between medical and operational aircrews and support personnel to promote patient comfort
  • Responsible for maintaining patient care, comfort and safety
  • Care for patients with both medical and traumatic issues
  • Request appropriate medications, supplies and equipment to provide care to patient
  • Must have training in mechanical ventilation, hemodynamic support, vasoactive medications and intensive care skills
  • Specialised clinical skills in union with knowledge, theory, education and expertise in hospital and pre-hospital environments are required [3]
  • Perform advanced medical procedures without supervision of a doctor such as intubation, ventilator management, chest tube insertion, intra-osseous line placement, central line placement, intra-aortic balloon pump management, management of pacing devices, titration of vasoactive medications, pain management, administration of anaesthetic medications for intubation, and in some cases, emotional and family care [2]


National Requirements for most Flight Nurse programs include:

  • License as a registered nurse- attainable through most Universities or Education Institutions
  • 2–3 years of critical care experience and/or
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support certificate (ACLS)
  • Paediatric Advanced Life Support Certificate (PALS)[2]

Additional requirements may include:

  • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)
  • Nationally recognised trauma program such as Pre Hospital Trauma Life (PHTLS)
  • Support (PHTLS), Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS), Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC), or Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course (TNATC)
  • Certifications such as Critical Care certification (CCRN), Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN), or Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)[2]

Helpful, but may not be required:

  • EMT or EMT-P (Paramedic) certification with field experience (some states require flight nurses to be certified as EMT’s or EMT-P’s)[2]


  • Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
  • Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)
  • Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN)[2]

Types of Flight Nurses

Civilian Flight Nurse

  • Works for hospitals, federal, state and local governments, private medical evacuation firms, fire departments and other agencies.[2]

Military Flight Nurse

  • Army Air Force Evacuation Service
  • Member of aeromedical evacuation crew
  • Senior medical member of aeromedical evacuation team on Continental United States (CONUS)
  • Works in intra-theatre and inter-theatre flights to provide in-flight management and nursing care
  • Plan/Prepare aeromedical evacuation missions and prepare patient care facilitation plan[4]

Australian Flight Nursing

Australia has an estimated 20% of land recognised as desert with a rather small population density. Providing health care to these remote, rural towns can prove to be quite laborious. Australia provides a number of organisations that flight nurses are under employment of.[3]

(Nursing and Health Sciences)

Extra Reading

Several books and weblink have been published to give an insight into Flight Nursing, some of these include:

See also


  1. "Angels of the Airfields: Navy Air Evacuation Nurses of World War II | Naval Historical Foundation". www.navyhistory.org. Retrieved 2016-05-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  4. US Air Force ROTC. "Flight Nurse". Retrieved 2008-06-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External resources