Army flight medic experiences seamless transition to civilian job

Certifications from UT Health San Antonio program made transfer easier

SAN ANTONIO – For any veteran, the transition from active duty to the civilian world is a tough one, especially when military qualifications don't transfer to civilian professions.

The Army's flight medic training program in San Antonio is making that transition seamless for its graduates.  

Most people who see the Methodist AirCare helicopter up close are racing time for survival.  As the paramedic on that chopper, Jeremy George helps those patients win their race. That's not the only reason he's a hero. The blocks that built his career are colored red, white and blue.

"The training process for the military to fly is pretty extensive,” George said.

As a member of the Texas National Guard, George went through UT Health San Antonio's unique flight medic training program in 2013.

"You get a lot more out of this program than just a straight paramedic program. From the very beginning, they were starting to teach critical care concepts that maybe aren't in a civilian paramedic scope of practice in the beginning," George said. "You go pretty much every day to school, five days a week. You also swap on clinicals, ICU time, ER time, ambulances, other civilian helicopters."

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That training helped George shift easily to a civilian career at REACH Methodist AirCare.

"It is a different skill set. My job here deals with everything from high-risk OB, neonates, pediatrics, 911 scene calls. I felt really prepared to do it,” George said. “I went onto a ground ambulance service for the next several years [after training], and I worked there to become a really proficient civilian paramedic. And I continued to fly for the National Guard.”

The Methodist chopper George flies in is an EC135 helicopter, a whole different one from the Black Hawk helicopter he flies in for the Texas National Guard when helping with national disasters or rescue missions.

"This is clean. This is climate controlled," George said with a smile. "The Black Hawk's mission is so different because you can put 12 people in the back of it if you need to."

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Despite the differences, his core training and skills allowed him a transition many active duty members find difficult.

"I think it's huge. To be able to walk out and have a civilian paramedic license, and an FBC and say, ‘Well I can go apply for these jobs. I'm eligible for these jobs.’ A lot of people can't say that," he said.

UT Health's nine-month flight medic training program is about to graduate its 23rd class since 2011. Directors hope to be awarded another contract with the Army to keep the successful program in San Antonio.

About the Author:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.