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County officials in talks with Mercy Flight about ambulance service

By Joanne Beck

While at least one City Councilman has expressed concern about ambulance response times in the city of Batavia, Genesee County officials are mulling similar issues elsewhere, Manager Matt Landers says.

“My understanding is that Mercy Flight has a good response time. But there's going to be isolated incidents that inevitably happen because there could be a call for service somewhere else that happens to pull ambulances out. So my concern, honestly, is more of a response time in our rural areas in the county, where response times are greater than the nine minutes that are currently being experienced in the city of Batavia,” Landers said to The Batavian Wednesday. “So that is something that this Legislature and myself are aware of, and that there's a lot of issues out there that we're trying to tackle and work on.”

Landers clarified the current arrangement with Mercy Flight and Mercy EMS. The county provides “a minimum contract of $12,500 on an annual basis to go towards their Mercy Flight air, that's, the contract that we have in place with Mercy Flight currently,” he said, and there is no official contract for ambulance service. An article published Tuesday stated that there was a countywide contract for ambulance service.

“There was a county RFP issued but it wasn't for a county contract. It was something that was for individual towns, so they could contract specifically the Mercy Flights. Some did, some didn’t,” he said. “But Mercy Flight has built a base of operations here at Genesee County, they are here to stay, they are an asset to our community. But there is no current contract with Genesee County for any kind of ambulance service.”

The topic of ambulance response times came up during city budget talks Tuesday evening at City Hall. Councilman Paul Viele raised concern after hearing about a child getting stung by a bee last summer. After reportedly lengthy response time from Mercy EMS, city police ended up taking the child to the hospital for medical treatment, Viele said.

During the conversation, Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. added that there’s been a countywide struggle to accommodate the need.

County officials are working with Mercy Flight to try and remedy the situation, especially in Genesee’s outskirts, Landers said Wednesday.

“We are in talks with Mercy Flight, and how potentially we can help,” Landers said. “I understand why people would think there might be a contract … we understand as a county that response times is a countywide issue. So Legislature and myself are exploring the issue currently and seeing what we could do to help improve those response times, primarily in our rural corners of the county. Less so in the city of Batavia.”

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