CCAT Foundation Level Course

Overview of the CCAT FL course

In recent years the growth of budget and low cost air travel, and of international tourism in particular, has been reflected in a major expansion of the aeromedical transport of those who have been injured, or fallen ill while overseas. Pre-hospital medical care has also developed rapidly, with helicopters now used by many emergency services. This course is designed for doctors, nurses and paramedics who act as aeromedical escorts or flight medical crew, and others who work in the field of retrieval and transport of the ill and injured by air. It is a very 'practical' course, taught by aviation physiology and retrieval medicine experts. It addresses relevant issues of the special physical, physiological and psychological stresses that are important in the flight environment, and describes the conditions which are susceptible to this form of transport and how patients may be safely and efficiently carried.

Altitude physiology and transport medicine

The first part of the course is devoted entirely to the relevant principles of aviation and environmental physiology that form a basis for the remainder of the course. The second part of the course covers clinical aspects of transport medicine with special relevance to fixed wing and rotary wing flight. It provides the necessary background to enable sensible and safe decisions about fitness to fly, and allows prediction of potential aeromedical problems. Lectures will cover individual susceptible pathologies, the problems of critical care in the air, and will also examine the importance of appropriate equipment, as well as the logistics and organisation of both helicopter and fixed wing operations.

Face-to-face classroom or webinar teaching?

Uncertainty surrounds the immediate future of face-to-face teaching and both classroom sessions and industry visits and, with the emergence of ever more SARS-2 covid variants and mutations, such close-contact teaching methods are not yet recommended (December 2022).  However, our theoretical teaching was adapted in 2021 to ensure remote learning opportunities in the form of live webinar 'conferences', and we are constantly looking at long-term solutions to the teaching of practical aspects of aeromedical transport in a Covid-safe manner.

Until then, the following information regarding workshops, visits and practical training remains valid only for the face-to-face classes when we are legally and morally authorised to restart the classroom-based training, hopefully in 2022. All  our courses will therefore proceed as Webinars until further notice.  Graduates of the webinar-based courses will be given opportunities to join future classroom-based courses to enrich and complete their learning experience.


Practical workshops, demonstrations and visits

Notable visits and demonstrations in the past have included:

  • British Airways, Cabin Crew Training Centre
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways, Cabin Crew Training Centre
  • Qinetiq Centre for Human Sciences
  • Andark: Aircraft underwater escape and sea survival
  • Royal Air Force Tactical Medical Wing
  • Capital Air Ambulance
  • CEGA Air Ambulance (now closed)
  • London Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS)
  • Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance (HEMS)
  • Thames Valley Air Ambulance (HEMS)
  • Wiltshire Air Ambulance & Police Support Unit (HEMS)
  • Royal Air Force Search & Rescue
  • Executive jet aircraft facilities
  • Demonstrations of commonly used air portable medical equipment
  • Previews of new items of medical equipment
  • Lifting and loading techniques
  • Patient packaging
  • Spinal management and other orthopaedic equipment

Participants should note that operational difficulties beyond the control of CCAT Aeromedical Training may lead to cancellations or changes in the visits program.

Optional visits (dependant on Covid 19 Restrictions)

Past delegates of the conventional classroom-based courses received choices of optional visits which, when reinstated, may include:

1. A day with one an airline or other aviation training provider, utilising cabin training facility, where delegates have  opportunities to examine and try out medical equipment carried on board commercial aircraft, take part in cabin evacuation exercises and scenarios of medical incidents in flight, and to learn more about the services that airlines offer to medical assistance companies.

2. Underwater escape and sea survival training is provided by Andark using a helicopter/air ambulance cabin simulation which can be safely ‘dunked’ underwater to simulate an aircraft ditching. Training is also provided on life jackets and life rafts used after evacuation from ditched aircraft.

3. Participants who have a primary interest in helicopter air ambulances will have an exciting opportunity to visit the HEMS service which operates from the Royal London Hospital. This popular visit is kindly provided by the staff of London HEMS and the Royal London Hospital but availability of the Boeing MD Explorer helicopter depends on operational activity on the day of the visit.

4. Depending on availability within the program, the course may also include visits to fixed wing or helicopter air ambulances. In the past we have featured a Royal Air Force search and rescue Sea King helicopter, the UK's first NOTAR air ambulance (Boeing 902 Explorer) from the Wiltshire Ambulance Service, Thames Valley, and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulances (Agusta 109 and Bolkow 105). In each of these visits, particular attention was paid to the problems of treating patients on board, and to the use of medical equipment in aircraft. Aspects of cabin safety, and the use of survival equipment is also covered.

NB Severe restrictions have been placed on our visits to Qinetiq. However, if agreement can be made, delegates may be offered an opportunity to experience relative hypoxia following a rapid decompression to 25,000 feet in the safety of a ground-based altitude chamber. It may also be possible to experience the effects of whole body vibration and spatial disorientation. These physiology demonstrations used to be provided by the aviation physiology group at Qinetiq in Farnborough (formerly the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine) and have not been available to delegates in recent years. Please note this program can not be guaranteed for the course. However, for overseas participants, similar opportunities arise on the CCAT Middle East course (contact CCAT Aeromedical Training for further details).

CCAT Foundation Level course

Introductory professional development course for doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health care professionals who currently work in patient air transport systems, or those who wish to do so. 

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The CCAT Foundation Level course can also be taken in two separate 3-day blocks

Basic (part 1):   1 pre-course + 4 days 

   - Environmental Physiology 

   - Atmospheric Physics

   - Clinical Risk Management

Clinical (part 2): 4 days

  - Clinical Concerns

   - Pathophysiology at Altitude

   - Aeromedical Logistics



University of Surrey, UK

CCAT Basic: Webinar 04 to 07 January 2022

CCAT Clinical: Webinar 18 to 21 January 2022