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HEMS job openings - why are there so many?


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#1 Parafiddle

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 15:36

Was looking through the job listings today on JustHelicopters.com and noticed there were a lot of openings for HEMS pilots. I was wondering why. I would think that HEMS would be a desirable position for an experienced pilot because of the steady schedule, reliable employment (not on a limited-time contract), and the ability to live in one place instead of travelling around chasing work. Are there really that many new HEMS programs that they can't find enough pilots? Do pilots leave because they don't fly enough? Is there some other reason that all these positions are open? Thanks!

#2 ctimrun

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 19:31

I think a lot of these EMS jobs are open because........

There aren't any pilots willing to live within the distance perameter the company places on the location. Seems like many of the locations are very rural and/or undesireable.

The base has a high turnover rate because there are personnel issues at the base.

The starting pay the companies offer potential pilots is too low for them to survive, especially if they have a family to support.

etc, etc. I'm sure others will chime in with other things.
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#3 Gomer Pylot

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 22:39

There is never a shortage of pilots, but there is always a shortage of experienced pilots with the hours and qualifications the companies want, and willing to work for the pay offered, in the locations where the vacancies exist. EMS is not for everyone, and it's certainly not for new pilots with low experience.
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Best Regards,

Gomer

#4 Wally

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 06:53

Compensation, pure and simple. The industry is evolving and is not a stable as an outsider might assume, the old assumption of a decade or two ago that one will be "home every night" just isn't as sound as it once was. Meanwhile, the industry suffers in support by pretending that one will be home every night. The number of bases with quarters for off-duty or temporary pilots is pretty small with many operators and the hassles of arranging it ad hoc is maximized.
It's not a good job for a nugget, not a way to build time for an establishing professional, and not adequately compensated to lure the well qualified.
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Just a pilot...

#5 r22butters

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 11:26

So just how bad is the compensation?

I used to read ads by tour operators for 30-40k, medical, dental, salary+flight pay, 401k, etc... How does EMS compare?

One thing is for sure, there has been a steady flow of EMS job postings for several years now, even though the most common answer I get when asking a fellow pilot what he got into this to do is,...fly EMS!

I've also gotten the impression that, they fly so little that you could build more hours a year as a part-time CFI, then as an EMS pilot?
:huh:

#6 Falko

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 15:55

So just how bad is the compensation?


omniflight used to be 52k VFR, 56k IFR, Airmethods is around 58k VFR and IFR.

But there are some hospital standalone programs with their own 135 cert. and pay around 65-80k for new hires.

#7 JDHelicopterPilot

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 20:54

I would say right now you would be looking at $60,000 to start. There was a period where many EMS companies were not advertising for pilots. You are right in the last year and a half or so the number of EMS job postings has increased.

EMS companies are shifting things around right now. Many are opening new bases. Some companies are being bought out by another and others are closing or moving slow bases.
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#8 Gomer Pylot

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 21:40

The way to get into EMS is to fly. The 1500 hour requirement is generally not waived, nor is the night experience requirement. And 1500 is a bare minimum, with more always being better. More hours, having an ATP, and having a stable job history mean a better chance of being hired and better starting pay. Until you get at least the minimums, don't even think about it. Sending experienced pilots out at 2AM in marginal weather is dangerous enough, nevermind inexperienced ones. There's just too much risk involved to ever allow newbies to be hired. It's also why there is always a shortage of experienced pilots, most of whom don't want to go out at 2AM in marginal weather. And you have to go out without a lot of recent proficiency flying, because there isn't that much flying. I barely break 100 hours/year, and I'm at a fairly busy base. When I do fly, there is no room for mistakes. The company just isn't going to hire low-time pilots, but they don't want to pay high-time pilots good wages either. Thus there are openings.
Best Regards,

Gomer

#9 Retreating Brain Stall

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 23:05

Compensation, pure and simple.


For a professional-experienced pilot that can make much more elsewhere, why would you want to make the measly pay of an EMS pilot when your going to be flying in challenging conditions, at night, bad weather, and with patients bleeding/puking their guts out right next to you up in the cockpit. Come on get real, up the compensation and then people like myself would consider working the EMS field. Obviously you'd be out of a job if you turned every call down for weather/safety, the industry cries for safety but when it comes right down to it, it's a whole another world of survival out there, especially with these greedy companies not providing the proper equipment/tools to complete the night missions.

#10 Falko

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 16:24

For a professional-experienced pilot that can make much more elsewhere, why would you want to make the measly pay of an EMS pilot when your going to be flying in challenging conditions, at night, bad weather, and with patients bleeding/puking their guts out right next to you up in the cockpit. Come on get real, up the compensation and then people like myself would consider working the EMS field. Obviously you'd be out of a job if you turned every call down for weather/safety, the industry cries for safety but when it comes right down to it, it's a whole another world of survival out there, especially with these greedy companies not providing the proper equipment/tools to complete the night missions.


Most guys pick this job because they want to be home every night and want work only half of the month. Also keep on mind that $$$$$ isn't everything in live. Its not like you cant live of by what you get paid by your ems provider. Also think about the benefits you will have access to in ems compared to most of the utility companies. You are right, the bigger companies are greedy as far as pilot salary. But first of all you need to keep the share holders happy (hint, hint ,hint).
Like i said earlier, there are smaller ems operators around who pay well(70-80k new hire) and do use nice twin engine equipment. But their pilot turnover is very low, so its hard to get in.


I have done both, ems and utility. Sure, utility is much more fun, more $$$ but its not necessarily safer.
Utility seems to be a good gig when you are young and or single, or if your wife and kids don't care if you are home or not.

I left utility because i got sick of living in a hotel and not knowing when i will be home next.
No matter what job you take, you always lose and gain something wether its money or time at home.

#11 jimbo2181

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 18:10

It's a cascading problem. Yes you sign up to work 7 on 7 off. But with the pilot shortages many pilots are having to work a lot of overtime. I've been at my base for 3 years and we have not had a full year with 4 pilots. All that overtime burns people out. So people get sick of it and leave. Making more open positions and more overtime and more people getting tired of it.
Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill

#12 Wally

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 20:55

So just how bad is the compensation?

I used to read ads by tour operators for 30-40k, medical, dental, salary+flight pay, 401k, etc... How does EMS compare?

One thing is for sure, there has been a steady flow of EMS job postings for several years now, even though the most common answer I get when asking a fellow pilot what he got into this to do is,...fly EMS!

I've also gotten the impression that, they fly so little that you could build more hours a year as a part-time CFI, then as an EMS pilot?
:huh:


Tours and EMS are apples and oranges, you can't compare compensation in a meaningful way. At one time, most EMS new hires had multiples, if not many times the multiples of the minimums. Ain't so anymore.

EMS isn't a job to build experience, although you'd be learning constantly as you fly. I average 150 hours a year. I know bases that average 0.6-0.7 hours per transport, some 1.5. So hours don't really indicate how hard you're working. Ten years here, I've flown the equivalent of 2 good years in the Gulf, excepting I had exactly 1 hour night in 13 years of the Gulf. Plus, I never, ever "take a look" or plan to fly until I can't anymore, land and wait the weather out, both really fast ways to see weather up close and personal. Me, I'm perfectly happy that the company's weather mins are way higher than mine.

I thought you weren't a CFI?
Just a pilot...

#13 r22butters

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 23:55

...I thought you weren't a CFI?


I'm not. What about my post made you think I was?
:huh:

#14 Gomer Pylot

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 16:03

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that EMS isn't just about flying. It's controlled by the medical side, and it makes no difference how well you can fly or how much experience you have if you can't get along with the med crews. Get on the wrong side of a couple of nurses and you'll find yourself out of a job. Personality is a very important part of the equation, since you'll be spending hours on end cooped up in a trailer or some other small space with two other people. Too much ego, wrong politics, wrong color eyes or skin, lots of things can lead to conflict, and the pilot will ALWAYS lose.
Best Regards,

Gomer




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