COAST GUARD FLIGHT SURGEON BADGE

Unlike the other four branches of the United States Armed Forces, the Coast Guard’s Medical Officers, including its Flight Surgeons, are drawn from the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. To enter the USPHS commissioning program, candidates must be U.S. citizens under the age of 44 (waivers are available, however) who hold a degree as an M.D. or D.O. and have finished a minimum of one year of postgraduate medical experience (internship, residency, etc.). In addition, they must pass U. S. Air Force’s Primary Flight Surgeons Course or the U. S. Army Course in Aerospace Medicine, as well as a two-week Coast Guard transition course.

USPHS officers chosen to become Coast Guard Flight Surgeons begin their career as Flight Surgeon Trainees (FSTs) assigned to a Duty Involving Flight Operations (DIFOPS) billet. Over the course of a year, FSTs need to log at least 48 hours of flight time in Coast Guard aircraft, as well as make carefully recorded observations of Coast Guard aircrew performing a variety of maintenance procedures—pre-and post-flight checks and routines, refueling, engine removal, generator change, and so forth—in order to acquire an understanding of the mental acuity and physical capabilities required in carrying out hangar-deck tasks and duties. FSTs are also encouraged to acquire a well-rounded knowledge of Coast Guard aircraft and their missions, crew designations, and roles in search-and-rescue operations.

The other major hurdle for FSTs is completion of underwater egress training designed to teach aircrew personnel the skills needed to exit rotary-wing aircraft that have entered the water. This includes training in the use of emergency equipment such as Emergency Breathing Devices (EBDs). After successfully completing this course, compiling the requisite 48 hours of flight time, and serving in at least one year in a DIFOPs billet, FSTs are eligible for designation as Flight Surgeons by the Commander of the Coast Guard’s Officer Personnel Management.
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