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March 28, 2010 - 10:45am

Driver hits pole and keeps driving across open pasture in East Pembroke

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, pembroke.

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A 37-year-old Batavia man was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC this morning after he apparently drove into a telephone pole and across a field into a brush line.

His car travel another 150 yards after shearing the pole off at its base, leaving behind pieces of his minivan as he continued rolling across the cow pasture.

Luis Gomez was reportedly driving southbound on Read Road when he reached the intersection at Route 33 and allegedly failed to stop for a stop sign and continued straight across Route 33, striking the pole on the other side of the T intersection.

The possibility of drinking and driving has not been ruled out, according to Deputy Ron Meides. (See update below.)

There was a partially consumed 12-pack of beer in the back seating area, though no open cans were visible.

No other people were in the minivan at the time of the accident. No other cars were involved. 

Meides said Gomez was semiconscious as he was being prepared for Mercy Flight transport and was taken to ECMC "for evaluation."

East Pembroke Fire and Mercy EMS answered the initial call, which came in before 8 a.m.

UPDATE10:53 p.m.: Deputy Meides report was just released.  Luis Gomez had a BAC of only .04.  No citations were issued in the accident.  The minivan traveled 329 feet after striking the the utility pole. The home address for Gomez was listed at 20 Thomas Ave., left apartment.

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Karen Miconi
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Does anyone know what the cost of being Mercy-Flighted to the hospital is? Just wondering, because its been being used alot more now, than ever before. Does it work like the ambulance? One gentleman told me it cost 1000 just to start it up. Is that true? Wondering what the injured pay after insurance. While it is a great asset to our city, and county, for saving lives, lately it seems to be being used for non life threatening transports mor than the ambulances. Just inquiring thats all..
Howard B. Owens
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How do you know it's being used more?
Karen Miconi
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Let me rephrase that for ya Howard.. Seems To Be being used more. There, now you cant turn my post into an attack, because its not, though It seems like you would like it to be against Mercy Flight. I think people have a right to know what its going to cost them to fly the life saving skys. It was Just a question
Howard B. Owens
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One reason for thinking that it might be used more is because prior to The Batavian, a lot of these calls went unreported. That's why I asked the question. Do you have facts or just going off of perception, because it's easy to explain why there perception would change.
Lori Silvernail
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Geesh, it looked like a pretty benign question to me! Does it have to be dissected? Karen you've got me wondering now too so I'll put the questions out there: Does anyone know what the cost is for a Mercy Flight transport to either Rochester or Buffalo? Do any insurance companies pay for it, or only a portion of it? How much might it cost if the patient does not have insurance?
Chelsea O'Brien
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From their website: "Mercy Flight is a non-profit corporation and relies on contributions from our supporters to keep us in the air. While third party payors reimburse us a portion of each flight's true cost, we still rely on additional funding from NYS appropriations, County grants, community fundraisers, corporate donations and individual contributions. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Mercy Flight. You can be assured that your donations are being used in the most responsible and prudent manner. 88 cents of every dollar we spend is used for our flight program expenses!" I was always under the assumption that insurance paid for it the same as an ambulance, as it is emergency medical transport.
Karen Miconi
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Thank You Lori for seeing it for what it was. Just a Legitimate Question. Perception? maybe yours Howard, Not Mine. Thank You Chelsea for looking into it. I still wonder how much it cost, to start and use the Helicopter, in Dollars and cents. I also wonder what the going rate is for ambulance transfer, for non-life threatening transport. Is there is a set, standard rate, for ground and air sevices?
Ok, I have read into a couple of Insurace plans and through Mercy Flight. Mercy Flight bills insurance and that is covered based on your ambulance coverage. (this may be different for yourr, so check!)If the amount is higher, sorry couldn't find actual dollars, it could be billed to you. Mercy flight though, being they are Non-Profit have pots of money to off set those costs! They also have membership programs that you can sign up for that would help to pay for any co-pays that you may recieve. They even go as far to caution you on Ambulance care, that it may duplicate services. I think it's a fair question as well, but there is no data as of yet. Nor would I think there would be. Mercy Flight has not been providing services for a full year to this area, so it would be rather difficult to do a comparative. Speaking from a perception stand point, when I was working in Medina, there were a ton of Mercy Flights due to accidents. I really haven't noticed that large of an uptick, but that is just from my perspective.
Lori Silvernail
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You're welcome Karen, and thank you for the information, Chelsea! Long before The Batavian, most of us relied solely on The Daily News or WBTA for local news. Whenever I heard of Mercy Flight being called to accident scenes, I just thought that they must have been pretty life-threatening situations. I don't think it's The Batavian's updates that give any perception to more frequent use of Mercy Flight...I think they ARE being utilized more frequently. Perhaps because more people perfer to be taken to hospitals other than UMMC?
Howard B. Owens
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First, let's be clear, Karen made an assertion as a statement of fact: "it's being used more now." My very simple, basic question was: Proof? That's hardly an attack or unfair question. I think it's important to be clear on the basis for the assertion. Before The Batavian, not every Mercy Flight call was reported by WBTA or the Daily. The calls reported were the more clearly life threatening situation. In speaking with people about this over the past year, Mercy Flight has been called in for non-life threatening injuries in the past. "Treated and released" the same day for Mercy Flight patients has not been, as far as the information shared with me, an unusual circumstance (though to be transparent, I only have hearsay on that statement). As to the assertion that maybe people don't want to go to UMMC, it's not the patients making the decision on whether to call in Mercy Flight. It's usually not even Mercy EMS personnel -- it is the first responders among the firefighting personnel, and since most of these calls are outside the city, volunteer firefighters who clearly have no other motivation than ensuring the best possible care for accident victims (not to imply city firefighters don't have the same motivation, but I can recall only one Mercy Flight call in the city in the past year -- fewer serious accidents in city traffic; less transportation distance to cover than in rural areas). If the implication is that Mercy EMS/Flight are trying up billable flights, it's important to keep the fact in mind that the people making the bulk of the decisions to call in Mercy Flight have no financial ties to Mercy Flight.
Lori Silvernail
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I said: I think they ARE being utilized more frequently. Perhaps because more people perfer to be taken to hospitals other than UMMC? Howard replied: If the implication is that Mercy EMS/Flight are trying up billable flights, it's important to keep the fact in mind that the people making the bulk of the decisions to call in Mercy Flight have no financial ties to Mercy Flight. I see that I wrote perfer instead of prefer...just a typo, yikes! It's ridiculous that my simple opinion and question to others about whether it could possibly be that Mercy Flight might be used more frequently for taking patients out of area is being turned into something so ugly as an "implication" of some sort of wrong doing on the part of Mercy Flight. For heaven's sake, I'm not looking for any argument here. Nor do I have even one iota of issue with Mercy Flight. They provide a great service. Please stop reading negative things into what I said.
Howard B. Owens
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Lori, I'm sorry you took offense at my post. There's two parts here. First, I thought I should make the counter point that patients aren't the ones deciding whether to go to UMMC or not in a Mercy Flight situation (though, I have noticed that grand transport patients have seemed to request other hospitals, but this seems to be related to either insurance carriers or where they live (a Monroe County victim might prefer a MC hospital). I'm sorry you see that as argumentative. It's merely a counter point. And I did not mean to imply that you were making any sort of implication about Mercy Flight. But there is an overall implication to the thread that Mercy Flight is somehow trying to up billable flights. I thought it important to answer that implication. That's no reflection on you, nor did I quote you on any statement like that nor direct my comment at on you that. One other thing I thought of adding -- besides firefighters dispatching Mercy Flight, I've also known the Genesee County dispatchers to get Mercy Flight at least on standby based on their interviews with callers.
Bea McManis
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I know of two instances where Mercy Flight was used when a Batavia resident collapsed, due to a high alcohol content. Both times the person was flown to Rochester; allowed to dry out overnight and released. The bill for each of these instances was over a thousand dollars. see http://www.thebatavian.com/blogs/bea/alcoholic-coma/13987
C. M. Barons
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Who got coffee today, and who didn't? There is some serious caffeine imbalance going on here today... Just visiting the Mercy Flight website should answer some of the questions. MF has added aircraft and a local base at the county airport since 2006. MF became the emergency service of record for Genesee County last year. MF added hospital transfers to its list of services. Since MF developed a local base, added aircraft, has a first-call basis with county EMS and added additional services; it would be hard to argue that MF flights haven't increased in number.
C. M. Barons
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Separate question: are air-evac medical services being used excessively or frivolously? That requires case-by-case analysis. If Bea's report of air-transporting drunks out of the county is true, it might be time to get a handle on Mercy Flight dispatch.
Bea McManis
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C.M, I'll have to search, but I remember posting on the expense of the flights to Strong. The person collapsed on two different occasions, at the same bar. The first time he was immediately transported to Strong, via Mercy flight. The second time, he was taken to UMMC, then, mercy flight, to Rochester. Both times were before Mercy flight took over in Batavia.
Howard B. Owens
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C.M., it is of course a legitimate question -- is MF being used in situations where ground transport should be used? How do would we go about quantifying that based just on stats? Finding one time of questionable use wouldn't prove a pattern. An actual statistical pattern would need to be established. But it would seem to me that would take examining each case -- just because somebody's medical emergency was potential alcohol poisoning, for example, doesn't mean the air transport wasn't warranted. I knew a girl in the Air Force who OD'd on booze and died. It would seem like a lot of these transports are subjective decisions. That makes it hard to statistically validate one hypothesis or another with available public information. So it's a good question, but how do we get at a valid answer?
Well to further that Howard, you would also have to look to see who is determining the flights in question. If you have first responders, as you previously stated or even doctors at UMMC making those choices, then how is that MF's fault?
Karen Miconi
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Howard admit it, you just wanted to give me a hard time. Thats Ok, cause I can hold my own. I asked a Legitimate question, and that was all. Proof? I dont have to prove anything, just like everyone else on this site. I can see if I was assuming, or attacking, but I simply asked a question or 2. I was wondering if MF was being used more than usual. I have lived here ALL my life. I believe a saw more frequency in the use of the Heli. What is the point of you calling me out? There wasn't.. If you dont care for me, then fine. This is your site. Like Ive asked a million times(oops exageration) just delete my account, because I wont be bullied. Have a Great Day Howard.
Howard B. Owens
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Phil, there could be a legitimate question of are the people making the calls too quick to call in MF? The next question is, to whose benefit? On the first question, it would be an interesting academic question and if I had the resources for such a thorough bit of investigative journalism, an interesting public policy question. But the second question what trips me up. Based on what I hear on the scanner, there seems to be a layer of protection against Mercy Flight boosting its billable flights just to collect more fees. I think even by the time Mercy EMS is on scene, the decision to call Mercy Flight is at a minimum a group decision. And usually, the dispatchers have some idea if its a potential Mercy Flight call before the first responder arrives. The first responder is almost invariably a volunteer fire chief, and that's when the bulk of MF decisions are made. I just can't see an angle/advantage for a volunteer chief to benefit from calling MF. I trust he is making the best patient care decision he can with available information. Some times, the decision isn't made until after EMS arrives, but this comes across to me as a consultative decision. Mercy EMS personnel don't seem to be making these decisions on their own. The call for MF always seems to come through the incident commander. I would love for an emergency responder or two to jump in and tell us if this is the correct read on procedure.
Chelsea O'Brien
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"I was wondering if MF was being used more than usual. I have lived here ALL my life. I believe a saw more frequency in the use of the Heli." Right, and that was your perception. All he wanted to know is if it was your perception or if you had some knowledge he didn't. It wasn't an attack, just a mere question, similar to the ones you posted first. But, I believe your post has opened up an interesting conversation, without anyone being attacked.
Bea McManis
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Posted by Howard Owens on March 30, 2010 - 1:05pm But it would seem to me that would take examining each case -- just because somebody's medical emergency was potential alcohol poisoning, for example, doesn't mean the air transport wasn't warranted. I knew a girl in the Air Force who OD'd on booze and died. Howard, you are right. Most likely the air transport was warranted. Yet, the last incident with that person, when he collapsed across the street from the fire hall, he was transported to UMMC and kept there. This was after they had performed CPR on him. So who makes the decision? The other two incidents took place in E. Pembroke. Could it be the first responders?
Karen Miconi
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I thought it was an interesting question, and never thought the post would go this way. Ive noticed a difference myself, in the calls on the scanner, and them flying over the home, Ive lived in for 16 years. I wasnt mad, sad, glad, just having my coffee this morning,and figured, who better to ask, than the public. I must say, Im not the only one who has noticed. Thats all Just for the Record, I Have Much Respect for our EMT"S, Local Fire Dept, and Volenteers, and have always defended them. We know how they suffered at the cities hand. They do a Great, Thankless Job, and We Need Them. I think I've said enough today, exausted.. PS Chris I had my coffee, a small Timmys 1 Cream 1/2 a Sugar (<: MMmmm Good
C. M. Barons
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County emergency mgmt. would have the data necessary to overview the use of air-evac. I assume they do all the dispatch of emergency vehicles.
Howard B. Owens
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What I'm saying, C.M., is the raw data wouldn't tell us much if our goal was to determine whether Mercy Flight was being dispatched only in those situations where it was really needed. So we find out it was dispatched to 10 rollover accidents. What does that tell us? We'd then have to track down each individual accident report, get the names of the victims, then call the hospital and find out if they were treated and released (information that they probably wouldn't release at such a late date). And even then, we're still looking at a subjective decision. Even if a patient was treated and released, we're still not getting at what factors went into the decision to bring in Mercy Flight. The factors could be totally valid and those same factors could legitimately save a life next time. Just looking at the raw data of how many times dispatched and to what types of calls (which, should be easily obtainable information), isn't going to tell us much.
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Without getting into this conversation up to my armpits I will make this information known. The request for the air medical transport is determined by the mechanism of injury and protocols written by WREMAC for this region. Protocols are guidelines provided that state for instance, that if there is the death of an occupant of a same vehicle accident that there is a high probability that anyone else in the vehicle could also have serious injuries. The helicopter is also utilized for strokes and other brain trauma, high impact injuries, heart attacks etc..... To the lay person this might not seem appropriate however to the medically trained it is very much so. There is a rule of thumb called "The Golden Hour" that stipulates that a trauma patient needs to be transported and arrive at a trauma facility within an hour of the time of the incident to have the best chance of survival and recovery. If the onscene time is going to be significant because of extrication delays then the "bird" is the best choice for transport. The same thought process plays out for the injury to heart muscle (heart attacks) or brain tissue (strokes/CVA). There are some skills and capablilities that a Air medical providers have that we ground service providers don't have. Those skills also can save lives. Clearly, we EMS providers are human. We are not given diagnostic tools like xray or laboratory machines to help with our decisions out in the field. We go on the scene findings, mechanism of injury and basic gut instinct. Sometimes we error on the side of over treatment. Sometimes we don't know the patient is developing a pneumothorax (collapsed lung)or a subdural bleed (bleeding within the dura lining of the brain)until the injury is quite pronounced. In these cases the patient goes from a facility like UMMC or WCCH to a trauma facility like Strong or ECMC. I hope this clears up the "whys" that make the helicopter used vs. ground transport.

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