Completing nearly 30,000 patient helicopter missions since 1981, Mercy Flight, a nonprofit organization, continues to provide critical care medical transportation throughout western New York State.
“Everyone knows that fast, high-quality transportation from the scene of an illness or serious injury to an appropriate healthcare facility is crucial for optimal patient outcomes,” said Elaine Duquette , Marketing Director for Mercy Flight, “But equally important is rapid response to the scene of this illness or injury. Both of these can be particularly difficult in rural areas, where travel distances are long and EMS resources can be scarce, ”said Duquette.
“Since returning to our ground ambulance roots in Batavia in 2009, we have completed countless ambulance ground patient missions,” said Duquette.
The mission – to be an independent, not-for-profit provider of emergency air medical transport and support services, ensuring rapid, safe and cost-effective delivery of expert emergency response personnel, patients, specialist medical teams , organs and medical supplies and equipment – enables Mercy Flight to execute on its vision to help all those in need in service areas have access to the best possible medical transportation.
With a fleet of four state-of-the-art Bell 429 helicopters, 20 ground ambulances, four paramedic flying cars and more than 200 employees, the ability to reach all areas of coverage stems from the practical and intentional locations of the bases. helicopters in Batavia. , Buffalo, Olean and Springville. Mercy Flight is the primary air ambulance for the eight counties of western New York State, including Genesee, Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Orleans, Allegheny, and Wyoming. With the majority of ground ambulance services carried out from the Batavia base, Mercy Flight also covers parts of Northwestern Pennsylvania from its Olean base.
The medical team, both aboard the helicopter ambulance and in ground ambulances, is operated by a team of healthcare professionals who are trained to respond effectively to emergencies. Each helicopter ambulance is equipped with a pilot, a flight paramedic and a flight nurse. Land ambulances are staffed according to the level of care required – Advanced Life Support ambulances have an EMT, EMT or A / EMT, while Basic Life Support ambulances are staffed with ” a pair of EMT or A / EMT
“Mercy Flight is committed to providing the best possible, cost-effective and compassionate medical care throughout Western New York State, regardless of our patients’ ability to pay,” said Duquette. “We strive to be mission-ready and able to respond to every corner of our service area as quickly as possible, so that rescue measures initiated by local first responders and regional hospital partners can be continued and even reinforced by our healthcare professionals, if necessary. . “
With setbacks occurring throughout the pandemic, Mercy Flight’s mission has been compliant with regulations due to ever-changing procedures and protocols as Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions continue to expand.
“Like many, we have found ourselves expanding and adjusting our protocols to improve the safety of our patients and crews due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tasks of our crews have become much more difficult due to the frequent donning and removal of personal protective equipment (PPE) and increased decontamination efforts, ”said Duquette. “Because we are the first point of contact with medical care for most of our patients, they have not yet been tested or diagnosed with COVID-19, so for their safety as well as ours, we must treat every patient. as if he has the virus. It has been a physical, mental and emotional challenge, and we are extremely proud of the way our suppliers have faced and continue to face the changing face of this pandemic head-on. “
Since 2020, Mercy Flight has seen both a decline and an influx of calls. First a drop in calls when containment was imposed, from March 2020, then an influx of demand throughout 2021 so far compared to 2020.
Based at its Buffalo base, located on the former Flying Tigers restaurant grounds, adjacent to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport on Amherst Villa Road, the Mercy Flight communications center is also housed there. The Communication Center sends every ambulance and helicopter.
The head office also houses the Aircraft Maintenance Department, which maintains the Bell 429 helicopters; the administrative team that oversees education; AQ; TIME; THIS; development; accounting; finances and more.
As Mercy Flight approaches its 40th year of service, it will also complete its 30,000 air ambulance mission.
“… Which is incredible considering the number of people and their families who have been affected by our efforts to save lives and improve outcomes,” said Duquette.
Saving lives with life-saving measures, Mercy Flight will soon be celebrating its 40th anniversary on Sunday, September 19.
To celebrate, Mercy Flight will be hosting its annual BASH event from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, September 25 at Buffalo RiverWorks. During the event, Mercy Flight will be recognized for its achievements over the past four decades.
“We perform our life-saving services regardless of our patients’ insurance status or ability to pay, and we have a strong charitable care program for our patients who cannot afford their bills. While the 24/7 service we provide is expensive to operate and maintain, the average outlay for our patients in 2020 was less than $ 200. Granted, this can vary widely depending on the insurance plan our patient has purchased, but the compassion with which we provide patient care extends to our billing and collection process as well, and we have a policy of “no”. no harm “in that regard,” said Duquette.
She continued, “While third-party payers reimburse us for a portion of the actual cost of each flight, we still rely heavily on additional funding from individual contributors, corporate donations, community fundraisers, and community grants. These funds help us close the sometimes significant gap between what it costs us to provide our service and the reimbursement we receive from the government and other payers.