Vanderbilt LifeFlight


Ride Along Program Guidelines and Requirements

Attention! New helicopter RAL applicants for the 2013-14 RAL season will need to apply by March 31st 2014.   All applications received after that date will be deferred to next year’s RAL season ( September 2014 to April 2015).   Our fixed wing operation is able to accommodate riders year round.

Click here to download a PDF document
(information and directions to bases)

The LifeFlight Ride-Along Program is designed to provide a clinical learning experience for employees in emergency services and medical care.  The program will provide the opportunity for applicants to become knowledgeable regarding helicopter safety and operations.  The program’s goal is to demonstrate quality patient care in the transport setting.  The Ride-Along Program serves to enhance knowledge and foster the team concept for our partners in Middle Tennessee.

We strongly encourage all EMS, hospital emergency departments, and critical care staff to sign up for our iFly program.  iFly candidates are formally instructed on safe helicopter operation, enabling them to fly with LifeFlight directly from a scene or hospital with little advanced notice. 

Vanderbilt LifeFlight has five (5) base locations.  We have helicopters in Lebanon, Tullahoma, Clarksville, Mount Pleasant and Smyrna, Tennessee.  Our fixed-wing aircraft is based at Nashville International Airport. 

To apply:  Complete the application for your preferred location in its entirety.  The ride along application will ask for your preferred dates and alternate location.  Please select the base that is most appropriate for you. Applicants must report to the selected base, not the hospital.  You are responsible for transportation to and from the base.

Students: The ride along experience is expected to be a learning experience.  However, due to the unpredictable nature of patient encounters, a day with LifeFlight cannot be counted as clinical time.  Students are asked to refrain from applying until their education and training is complete.


  • Eligible candidates must (by job description) be involved in the transfer of critically ill or injured patients within the LifeFlight service area.  Typical job descriptions include licensed EMT, Paramedic, RN, NP, MD, RT, Firefighter, 911 operator, law enforcement officer, hospital helipad security personnel or those directly involved in setting up helicopter landing zones such as an LZ coordinator or LZ security officer.  
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must weigh less than 250 pounds and have a waist size of less than 44 inches.  If you weigh between 200-250 pounds, your participation will be subject to pilot discretion once total crew weight is considered. Regardless of weight, a ride along participant must be able to fit in the aircraft seatbelts.
  • You must be fit, agile and able to exit the aircraft quickly without help.  At minimum, you must meet the requirements necessary to sit in an emergency exit aisle on an airliner.
  • You may participate no more than once every 3 years.

Other Things to Remember

  • All applicants need to provide their supervisor’s name and email address.  Current employment in emergency services or a hospital related setting is required and will be verified prior to schedule confirmation.
  • Employment Verification Links
  • Hourly Vanderbilt employees must be on the clock for worker’s compensation reasons.  These hours are to be paid by the candidate’s home department budget.  Since these hours may create overtime, the candidate will need approval from their department manager.
  • Helicopter ride along applicants must view the online Operation Tail Watch class and the Helicopter Ride Along briefing.  Be prepared to repeat the validation phrase included at the end of the presentation.
  • Fixed wing ride along applicants must view the online Operation Tail Watch class and the Fixed Wing Ride Along Briefing and be prepared to repeat the validation phrase included at the end of the presentation.
  • The ride along shift typically starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.
  • You must wear the LifeFlight Observer Vest during all phases of patient transport.
  • Professional dress is required. EMS, fire, and law enforcement personnel should wear their uniforms. Otherwise wear black, blue or khaki pants and a solid-colored polo-type shirt.  Jeans and scrubs are not allowed.
  • Boots are the best footwear for a ride along.  Shoes with a non-slip tread and adequate protection are also allowed. Tennis shoes, sneakers, sandals, clogs or open-toe/open-back shoes are not allowed.
  • Piercings and jewelry must comply with Vanderbilt's dress code. Visible body piercing/jewelry except for ears is not allowed, nor are visible or gross tattooing on face, neck, arms or hands; tattoos 1 inch in size - graphic/disturbing, e.g., displaying violence, drugs, sex, alcohol, tobacco products.
  • A busy day with LifeFlight may offer little to no time for meals, drinks or snacks.  You may also encounter turbulence, vibration, noise and extremes of hot and cold.  If you have a medical condition that may make it hard for you to function in these conditions, please explain in the comments section of the application. Vanderbilt LifeFlight reserves the right to request that ride along candidates provide a physician letter granting medical clearance to participate in the program.
  • Additional information, including directions, will be provided by the ride along coordinator during the scheduling process. 
  • Please select one of the following bases to request your ride along.  You will be given the option to select a secondary base in the application:

    LF 1 - Lebanon
    LF 2 - Tullahoma
    LF 3 - Clarksville
    LF 4 - Mt. Pleasant
    LF 5 - Smyrna (no riders currently accepted)
    LF 10 - Nashville (airplane)

To contact the base ride along coordinators please use the following email addresses.

Once Your Ride Along Day is Complete

Please take the time to complete our post ride along survey.  Your honest feedback will impact future LifeFlight operations.

LF1 Survey

LF2 Survey

LF3 Survey

LF4 Survey

LF10 Survey


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