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Mercy Flight

June 17, 2022 - 12:02pm
posted by Press Release in Mercy Flight, news.

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Press release:

In the wake of enduring a tragic loss in April, Mercy Flight is announcing today that it will host its signature fundraiser again this fall. The BASH for Mercy Flight at Buffalo RiverWorks will be held on Saturday, September 24, 2022.

“We continue to provide access to high-quality emergency medical transportation, and holding our BASH fundraiser is another way that we can help sustain our lifesaving mission,” said Scott Wooton, Executive Vice President. “This fundraiser is crucial for us as it helps offset the ever-increasing costs of providing Emergency Medical Service for all those in need.”

Wooton adds, “While we all continue to grieve the terrible loss that occurred in April, we know our community still need us, and we still need our community. Our friend Jim Sauer will forever hold a special place in our hearts, and we look forward to honoring his life again as part of our event on September 24th.”

Tickets for The BASH, featuring Nerds Gone Wild, DJ Milk, a spectacular Skylighters fireworks show, food, beverages, silent auction, and much more, are available starting at $50 each for a four-pack, $65 each for a two-pack, and $75 for an individual ticket. Designated driver tickets are also available for $35. To purchase tickets now, please visit MercyFlightBASH.givesmart.com.

For information on VIP Tickets/Sponsorships, please contact Elaine Duquette at (716) 626-5808, extension 1358 or [email protected]

Photo: File photo from 2022 by Howard Owens.

May 6, 2022 - 4:32pm
posted by Press Release in Mercy Flight, news.

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Press release:

After a period of voluntary pause in its air ambulance operations, Mercy Flight’s team of dedicated helicopter emergency medical professionals will resume their lifesaving service at 7:00AM tomorrow May 7.

Mercy Flight President, Margaret Ferrentino, states, “We continue to grieve and to mourn the terrible loss we experienced April 26th. A piece of Mercy Flight’s collective heart has been forever changed, but we know that our patients still need us. It is our duty and our honor to work beside our partners to be there for those in need of air ambulance service, and we know without a doubt that getting back in the air to help them is what Jim would want us to do. Our employees have banded together during this tragedy like never before, and our helicopter maintenance staff has truly gone above and beyond to assure the mechanical airworthiness of our remaining fleet.”

Scott Wooton, Executive Vice President, adds, “We have spent every minute since last Tuesday’s tragic accident ensuring that all of our team members are properly cared for and confirming that our two remaining helicopters are completely safe and operationally sound. Exhaustive internal and third-party maintenance inspections have indicated that N506TJ and N508TJ are fully functional and ready to resume their lifesaving work.”

All of Mercy Flight’s employees, Medical Directors, and members of its Board of Directors would like to thank everyone who has expressed their support throughout this difficult time. The flowers, cards, messages, donations, and beautiful displays of orange and blue have been so thoughtful and encouraging. While there are simply too many to name, and many have remained anonymous, the specific efforts of Mercy Flight Central of Canandaigua, NY to provide backup air ambulance coverage to our service area have been nothing short of extraordinary. Mercy Flight and all of its constituents owe a great debt of gratitude to Mercy Flight Central. 

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens.

May 3, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mercy Flight, Mercy EMS, news, notify.

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Recruitment and retention continue to be the biggest challenge for Mercy Flight Inc., especially in its ground operations in Genesee County, Mercy EMS, said Scott P. Wooton, executive VP and treasurer of the Buffalo-based non-profit.

On Monday, Wooton delivered the agency's annual report to the Human Services Committee of the County Legislature.

It's a competitive job environment with record-low unemployment in the region and rising wages throughout the nation, and not as many young people are choosing an EMT career path, he said.

"As wages continue to rise in part-time and even entry-level positions in other industries, it's imperative that the EMS system is able to continue to offer competitive wages and benefits for long-term sustainability," Wooton said.

It's difficult to remain competitive, Wooton said, when the Federal government is not increasing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to keep up with rising expenses.

"The stress on the EMS system as a whole could approach a breaking point," he said. "This is almost verbatim what we had in our report last year. It continues to be the number one challenge in EMS."

The pandemic has also made recruitment and retention more of a challenge.

"We feel that there may be folks who are choosing other occupations as opposed to one which will put them in the way of this virus and other such situations," Wooton said. 

Mercy Flight recently gave its employees an across-the-board 5.9 percent raise, he told the committee.

"We intend to continue to champion the courageous men and women who do choose EMS as their way of life, and will lead the charge ensuring that they're adequately compensated for their service," Wooton said.

As for numbers for the fiscal year, Mercy Flight was called upon 209 times in Genesee County. Of those, 123 resulted in patient transports. There were 72 of those 209 calls for service canceled by the requesting agency and 14 canceled due to weather.  

For Mercy EMS, there were more than 10,000 calls for service resulting in more than 7,000 patient contacts. Those contacts included both transports and lift assists.

"These figures are down about five percent as compared to pre-COVID numbers," Wooton said. "We feel that essentially, some patients would rather choose to delay care at times, especially during the pandemic, rather than having our service coming and assist them. Certainly, we tried to make it a point of public information that's not the right thing to do. When you need an ambulance, when you feel you need an ambulance, certainly you need to call and at the very least let our first responders give you sort of a checkout and see what your condition is."

The pandemic has also hampered community outreach, Wooton said. There have been fewer safety training classes and events, fewer ground training sessions for firefighters, fewer career days, and fewer DWI drills at high schools.

"Those are very impactful, and we were able to fit in a few in the previous fiscal year," he said. "All were canceled the year before. We're looking forward to getting back and doing those again, as well as our participation in various third-party open houses in recruitment demonstrations."

Wooton also addressed the recent fatal accident in Elba that claimed the life of Mercy Flight Pilot James Sauer.

"This is the first time that this has ever happened, and God willing, the last time that it will ever happen that we've lost one of our own in the line of duty," Wooton said. 

He had just come to the meeting from Sauer's funeral in Churchville.

See alsoMercy Flight pilot killed in Elba crash on Tuesday lauded as 'top-class human'

He said Mercy Flight voluntarily grounded its aircraft out of an "overabundance of caution and safety" following the accident, and Mercy Flight Central has been filling in for emergency ambulance service.

"We suspended all of our flights not only just to ensure that we're able to ensure the mechanical functioning of our helicopters, but also to give our providers time to process and integrate."

Mercy Flight tentatively plans to return to normal operations on Thursday, he said.

Photo above: Scott P. Wooton presents Mercy Flight's annual report to Genesee County Legislature's Human Services Committee Monday. Photo by Howard Owens.

May 2, 2022 - 9:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mercy Flight, news, notify.

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James Sauer, the Mercy Flight pilot who died Tuesday when the Bell 429 he was flying crashed just off Norton Road in Elba, was laid to rest today following a funeral service at Open Door Baptist in Chili.

Hundreds of first responders from throughout Western New York attended the service.

The 60-year-old husband, father, and grandfather lived in Churchville. He retired from the New York Army National Guard after 40 years in 2020. During his career Sauer also worked as a Rochester police officer, from 1993 to 2001, and for 17 years as a pilot for the State Police, retiring in 2021.  He also worked for a time with the Holley Police Department.

He joined Mercy Flight in October 2020.

"Mercy Flight was his retirement job," said Scott P. Wooton, executive VP and treasurer of Mercy Flight Inc., during an emotional statement this afternoon at the Genesee County Legislatiure's Human Services Committee meeting. "He joined Mercy Flight out of a wish to continue to serve his community with his special skills.

"Not only was he an outstanding aviator, a top-class aviator, absolutely, but he was a top-class individual as well, a top-class human. He was a man who loved his family, loved his friends. And he's gonna be greatly missed."

Photos by Howard Owens, except inset photo (social media photo) and second photo.

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 Press pool photo courtesy Democrat and Chronicle.

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April 29, 2022 - 9:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, Mercy Flight, news, notify, accident.

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There have been nine accidents involving the Bell 429, the model helicopter being flown by James E. Sauer, 60 of Churchville, and Stewart M. Dietrick, 60, of Prosper, Texas, when it went down in a field near Norton Road in Elba at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board has determined the cause of four of those accidents.  Three of them were the result of human error and one was an apparent mechanical failure.

The preliminary evidence in Wednesday's crash of the Mercy Flight aircraft, said Aaron McCarter, air safety investigator with the NTSB, is that the rear tail section of the aircraft became detached during the flight.

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Aaron McCarter

"Onboard (the helicopter) were two pilots and seasoned professionals about 1300 or 1 p.m. local time, several credible witnesses of the helicopter transitioning the area behind me over Elba, New York, at about 2,000 feet observed and heard a loud boom. We don't know which occurred first (the tail separating or the boom). The tail separated from the helicopter and was found 300 feet from the main wreckage."

The main wreckage was in a gully just a few yards from the edge of Norton Road, about a mile north of Edgerton Road.

McCarter said he will be at the accident scene gathering evidence for three to five days.

"The on-scene portion of the investigation is only a small part of a much larger list, or process," he said. "Most of the work being done by the investigative team happens behind the scenes when the on-scene portion is over. In 10 days, I will be completing the preliminary report. In approximately 12 months, the factual report, followed very shortly by the probable cause, signed off by the Transportation Safety Board members (will be released)."

The cause won't be determined until the investigation is complete, and that investigation, regardless of what the evidence shows now, looks at all factors of the case, McCaster said.  That includes mechanical, environmental, and human elements, and how all three elements interacted.

While both Sauer and Dietrick are experienced pilots, they were on a training mission.

"Even though they are seasoned pilots, you know how much time they had in this particular helicopter?" McCarter said. "I'm not trying to equate aircraft with cars, but have you ever gotten to a car rental that was completely different than yours? It takes you a while to kind of figure out where all the buttons are and how how to maneuver. So that's what we're looking at, we're looking at their familiarity with the machine, how much experience did they have in this particular machine, in addition to all the other aircraft that they have flown."

Wreckage to be examined in Delaware
The wreckage, which was spread over a 2,000-foot area from beginning to end, will be transported to Clayton, Delaware.

"It will be transported back to this facility to a two-dimensional assembly of it on a hangar floor and we'll be able to see how the helicopter -- it can assist us in determining how the helicopter came apart and what happened first."

He added, "We will be doing a thorough engine check. We're gonna be checking on the rotor blades. We're gonna be checking the tail rotor. And we're gonna be downloading data."

While the Bell 429 doesn't have a "black box" as most people are familiar with -- its data isn't in a hardened protective case -- McCarter is confident the flight recorder data can be recovered.

Investigators will also look at flight and maintenance logs and any reports on the helicopter's performance on previous flights.

The aircraft was manufactured in Canada so by international treaty, Canadian aviation experts will be participating in the investigation.

McCarter indicated he doesn't believe there was anything of the ordinary for a training mission prior to the crash.  The mission started at the Genesee County Airport at 11:15 a.m. and the crew did a typical training flight pattern around the airport for about an hour before heading toward Elba.

Once the tail separated, McCarter said, the pilot would have found it impossible to maintain directional control over the aircraft.

"That tail rotor is what keeps the nose of the helicopter pointed in the correct direction," he said. "Because the torque when the rotor blades are spinning around the helicopter, the fuselage wants to spin in the opposite direction, if you remember your high school physics, so the tail rotor actually keeps the nose of the helicopter pointed in a specific direction."

Of the nine prior crashes involving the Bell 429, four claimed six lives.

Prior aviation crashes locally
Of the nine Bell 429 crashes, one was in Batavia on Oct. 6, 2021. That 429 was also owned and operated by Mercy Flight but was not the same aircraft involved in Wednesday's accident. There were no injuries when that helicopter had a hard landing at the Genesee County Airport.  The cause has not yet been determined.

There has been one other helicopter crash in Genesee County over the past 30 years. On Dec. 27, 2003, in Byron, when a pilot practicing autorotations over an airport open field made a hard landing. The pilot was seriously injured. 

The NTSB reported, "The pilot reported that he felt a shudder during the autorotation and tried to regain airspeed by using forward cyclic, but he was unable to regain airspeed. Examination of the helicopter found evidence of low main rotor rpm. No discrepancies were found with the flight controls and engine."

Previous airplane accidents, as reported by the NTSB, in Genesee County:

  • March 31, 1983, Batavia, Cessna 182, mechanical failure, four aboard, no injuries;
  • Sept. 24, 1983, Batavia, Cessna 152, an unexpected gust of wind on landing, two aboard, no injuries;
  • Oct. 7, 1984, Cessna 150H, pilot error at dusk, no injuries; 
  • May 17, 1985, Batavia. Piper PA-22-150, commercial-rated flight instructor encountered unexpected wind at takeoff, no injuries;
  • May 29, 1985, Batavia, Piper PA-28-235, loss of power during takeoff, two aboard, no injuries;
  • Oct. 15, 1986, Le Roy, Piper PA-38, instructor error, two aboard, no injuries;
  • June 20, 1987, Batavia, Cessna 177RG, mechanical failure resulting in an emergency landing, no injuries;
  • March 17, 1991, Le Roy, Cessna 172M, inexperienced pilot error in poor lighting conditions, four aboard, no injuries;
  • Feb. 15, 2004, Batavia, Cessna 172E, the inability of the pilot to maintain control in winds on an icy runway, no injuries;
  • June 15, 2007, Cessna 172s, student pilot error, no injuries;
  • Feb. 7, 2009, Le Roy, Cessna 172A,  pilot error in heavy winds, no injuries;
  • July 15, 2011, Batavia, Murphy Aircraft Elite, pilot error, one serious injury;
  • Aug. 2, 2012, Alexander, Piper PA-25-260, pilot error, no injuries;
  • Sept. 20, 2014, Bethany Center, Cessna 182A, pilot error, no injuries;
  • June 11, 2915, Le Roy, Brandt Leroy E Challenger II, pilot error, no injuries;
  • Oct. 27, 2019, Batavia, Beech A36, pilot error in heavy winds, four aboard, no injuries;
  • June 1, 2020, Le Roy, Beech 36, pilot error, no injuries.

The only other fatal aviation crash in Genesee County since the early 1980s was on Oct. 2, 2020, in Corfu, which claimed the lives of attorneys Steve Barnes and Elizabeth Barnes. The cause of that crash remains undetermined.

CORRECTION: There was another fatal airplane crash in Genesee County on Aug. 11, 2001.  Two people were killed when a Dominiak Kitfox crashed in Byron. Alcohol and drugs were found in the inexperienced pilot's blood.

April 28, 2022 - 12:54pm
posted by Press Release in Mercy Flight, news.

Statement from Mercy Flight:

Our neighboring non-profit Helicopter EMS provider based in Canandaigua, NY, Mercy Flight Central, is on location at our Buffalo Base to continue to deliver critical air ambulance service to the people of Western New York. Requests for air ambulance within our service area should continue to be directed to our Communications Center as normal. We are so grateful to have the full support of the Mercy Flight Central team during this difficult time, and we thank them and all who have expressed to us their well wishes and encouragement from the bottom of our hearts.

Previously:

April 27, 2022 - 12:01am
posted by Press Release in Mercy Flight, news, accident.

Press release:

At approximately 1:00 p.m. the Mercy Flight Communications Center was notified that a Mercy Flight helicopter had sustained an accident in the area of Elba, NY in Genesee County during Mercy Flight’s annual Bell Helicopter factory training.

Mercy Flight Pilot James Sauer and a Bell Helicopter Flight Instructor perished in the accident. Mr. Sauer, a retired NYS Police Pilot, began working with Mercy Flight in October 2020.

“It goes without saying that our attention needs to be focused on the families of those lost and on our own employees as we deal with this unspeakable tragedy. This is a very dark day for the Mercy Flight family, we are so grateful for the expressions of love, concern and support expressed by many,” said Margaret Ferrentino, Mercy Flight’s President.

“Mercy Flight has temporarily suspended operations in order to allow time for our employees to process the event, and to ensure the complete safe mechanical operation of our other helicopters pending a preliminary accident team investigation. The Mercy Flight Communications Center will remain operational and will refer any requests to other area resources who are standing by to assist,” states Scott Wooton, Mercy Flight’s Executive Vice President.

The cause of the accident has not been determined. FAA, NTSB, Bell Helicopter and Underwriter Accident Investigation teams are responding to the scene. We will provide additional information as it becomes available. 

Previously: Edgerton Road resident heard a helicopter in trouble before Mercy Flight crash in Elba

April 26, 2022 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mercy Flight, elba, accident, news, notify.

Charlene Schultz is used to hearing helicopters over her house on Edgerton Road in Elba.  She seems to live in a flight path for both the military and Mercy Flight. So she knows what a helicopter passing overhead sounds like when all is all right.

Shortly before 1 p.m. today, she knew she heard a helicopter that was in trouble.

"The motor sounded weird," Schultz said. "You know when you start your car and it goes woo-woo? That's what it sounds like to me twice. Like it won't start. Then it went out completely. Then it came back on and I heard the Big Bang."

She speculated the pilot managed to get the motor started again as the helicopter was heading down but it was too late.

She went outside expecting to see smoke but there was no smoke.  She got in her car and drove to the scene.

"Three men stopped me and I was from here to your car (less than 50 yards) and saw what I didn't want to see. So I turned around and came back home."

Major Eugene Staniszewski, State Police, confirmed this afternoon that two crew members aboard the flight died in the crash. Their names have not yet been released.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. Investigators from both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been dispatched to the scene.

"We will be here for quite a while," Staniszewski said. "This could be into tomorrow while we're still on scene and then after that, it usually takes quite a while, it could be months until they come up with a final determination (as to the cause of the crash)."

The helicopter was on a training mission, Staniszewski confirmed, and it was flying out of the Mercy base at the Genesee County Airport. 

The major said there is at least one person who saw the helicopter go down and several who heard the helicopter in the area.

One neighbor said she saw a Mercy Flight helicopter circle the area before she and her husband went to Walmart.  They only learned of the crash while at the store and returned home immediately.  Schultz, however, said she believes the helicopter that circled the scene showed up after the crash.  She said when she first saw it, she hoped it was a sign that the crew survived but then the Mercy Flight helicopter left without landing.

"We are interviewing several witnesses and local neighbors that live on this road," Staniszewski said. "We'll be working with Mercy Flight and NTSB and FAA to come up with a reason for this crash."

UPDATE:  The pilot was James E. Sauer, 60 of Churchville. The second person was a Bell Helicopter employee and pilot, Stewart M. Dietrick, 60 of Prosper, Texas. They were flying a Bell 429 that was based in Batavia. They were pronounced dead at the scene and taken to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office.

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An unidentified helicopter circled the scene an hour or so after the accident.

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Power lines were cut because lines had fallen dangerously close to the helicopter, impeding the investigation.

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File photo of a Mercy Flight helicopter taken April 24 at GCC following a serious injury accident at Clinton Street Road and Seven Springs Road. Photos by Howard Owens.

January 20, 2022 - 12:50pm
posted by Press Release in crime, batavia, Mercy Flight.

Press release:

Mercy has received reports of an individual going door-to-door in the Batavia, NY area soliciting monetary donations on behalf of the organization. Mercy Flight does not solicit donations door-to-door.

If you receive this type of solicitation from anyone claiming to represent Mercy Flight, please notify the City of Batavia Police Department at (585) 345-6350.

October 13, 2021 - 9:46am
posted by Press Release in Mercy Flight.
Event Date and Time: 
October 23, 2021 - 12:00pm to 3:00pm

On Saturday, October 23 from 12:00 am – 3:00 pm, Mercy Flight will host its annual open house at the Mercy EMS Base.  The Mercy Flight Batavia Base, located at 8050 Call Parkway, will be open to the public. We kindly ask you to support this remarkable celebration.

The day will be filled with plenty to enjoy, including a trunk or treat, a costume contest, and activities for the family.

October 13, 2021 - 9:28am
posted by Press Release in Mercy Flight, business.

Press release:

Mercy Flight is pleased to announce that Margaret A. Ferrentino has been elected President of Mercy Flight, Inc. Ms. Ferrentino, who has been with the organization since its inception in 1981, will be filling the role that has been held for more than 40 years by its Founding President, Douglas H. Baker. Mr. Baker has been appointed to the honorary position of President Emeritus and will remain involved in an advisory role, assisting with leadership transitions and providing a historical perspective in the decision-making process. According to Baker, “Mercy Flight’s legacy

of compassionate medical care is in the best of hands. The success of this nonprofit has been the result of 40 years of Margie’s hard work and dedication, and I have no doubt that Mercy Flight will continue to be a Beacon of Hope to those in need for many, many more years to come.”

Ms. Ferrentino has dedicated her life to helping others, starting her EMS career working at LaSalle Ambulance Service as an Emergency Medical Technician in 1977. Shortly thereafter she became Western New York’s first female Paramedic and in 1981 one of Mercy Flight’s first Flight Paramedics. In 1986, she was promoted to General Manager of LaSalle Ambulance, overseeing an operation with hundreds of employees and dozens of ambulances.

Despite her humble nature, Ms. Ferrentino’s illustrious EMS career has garnered much due respect and many accolades, including being a member of a LaSalle Ambulance team that received the American Ambulance Association’s first International Community Service Award, Business First Magazine’s 40 Under 40 recognition, and the NYS Veterans of Foreign Wars Paramedic Award. According to Ms. Ferrentino, “The awards and recognition are truly an honor, but at the end of the day what really matters is that our efforts result in all of our patients receiving the high quality and compassionate care that everyone deserves. Sister Sheila Marie Walsh and Doug Baker have always emphasized patient care above all else, and that guiding light hasn’t steered us wrong in over 40 years. I’m blessed to have been a part of this organization ever since it was just a concept. I’m incredibly honored to become its newly-elected President and will remain forever grateful to many who have mentored, supported and worked beside me over the years.”

Filling Ms. Ferrentino’s previous role of Executive Vice President is Mercy Flight’s former Vice President-Finance, Scott P. Wooton, CPA. Wooton’s involvement with the organization began in 2006 when he was an auditor at a local public accounting firm, and Mercy Flight was one of his clients. Joining the nonprofit organization as Staff

Accountant in 2008, Wooton has since contributed positively to its growth, having

overseen the financial aspects of the $30 million-dollar acquisition of four new Bell 429 helicopters, the construction of a $2.5 million-dollar ground ambulance facility in Batavia, NY, and a roughly 350% increase in the company’s overall budget over the last 13 years.

Wooton states, “The EMS industry as a whole is facing several significant challenges, including shortages in its workforce and major shortfalls in the reimbursement necessary to recruit and retain employees from a shrinking talent pool. Our employees in the air, on the ground, and behind the scenes are special people that have proven they can rise to meet all manner of challenges. My job as their Executive Vice President will be to continue to advocate on their behalf in order to give them the tools they need to continue to do that.” Wooton, a 2005 graduate of the University at Buffalo’s School of Management, resides with his wife, Michelle, and their four children in Alden, NY.

Additionally, the Mercy Flight Board of Directors has elected Director of Finance, Joseph

C. Czyrny, to fill the role of the 501(c)(3)’s Corporate Secretary. Mr. Czyrny joined the Mercy Flight team in 2015, and has played a vital role in navigating the ever-changing landscape of compliance and regulation. Czyrny is looking forward to continuing to support the mission of Mercy Flight in his expanded role. “Mercy Flight is not only a great asset to the people of Western New York, but it’s also a great place to work. The team here is second-to-none. We take great care of our patients, and we take great care of each other” says Czyrny. Also a UB School of Management alumnus, Czyrny and his wife, Donette, live in Grand Island, NY with their two daughters.

Mercy Flight’s re-elected Board Chairman, Michael A. Bolas, CPA, Esq. adds, “I’m so proud of what this group has accomplished. In the coming months, we’ll reach 30,000 completed air-ambulance missions since inception, and we’re well over that number in ground ambulance transports. On behalf of our Board, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Mercy Flight team for all they do. Personally, I am honored to be associated with such a skilled, dedicated, and compassionate group of professionals,

and I look forward to continuing to serve the organization alongside our re-elected Vice-Chairperson and Past Patient, Eileen Kelchlin.”

October 7, 2021 - 9:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mercy Flight, Genesee County Airport, news.

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There were no injuries reported after a Mercy Flight helicopter a hard landing in heavy fog at the Genesee County Airport on Wednesday night.

The Bell 429 was returning from Strong Memorial Hospital, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The helicopter sustained damage to the underside of the fuselage after it landed on the north side of the airport, just north of the flightline, between State Street Road and Bank Street Road.

The crew members were transported to an area hospital for evaluation as a precaution.

The FAA  will investigate the incident along with Sgt. Andrew Hale, Deputy Kyle Krzemien and Deputy Morgan Ewert.

Town of Batavia Fire and Mercy EMS responded to the scene.

Information and photos via Alecia Kaus/Video  News Service.

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May 3, 2021 - 7:36pm

Mercy Flight Inc.’s air and ground emergency transport operation has taken a significant financial hit due to COVID-19 and continues to deal with challenges in other areas, including the safety and protection of its first responders and the ongoing effort to fairly compensate these skilled emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

That was the gist of a report by Michael Gugliuzza, the agency’s director of medical operations, at this afternoon’s Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse and via Zoom videoconferencing.

Gugliuzza said program expenses increased by more than $115,000 for personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 while net revenue for the period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, decreased by $400,000 due to a decline in ambulance calls and the loss of emergency management services standby revenue from Six Flags Darien Lake.

On a positive note, he did say that funds from the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program and federal stimulus have offset much of the loss.

In Genesee County, Mercy Flight received 143 requests for helicopter ambulance service during that fiscal year, resulting in 76 transports, Gugliuzza said. Fifty-six of the requests were deemed not necessary and 11 were canceled due to poor weather conditions.

He said that a change from Visual Flight Rules to Instrument Flight Rules will enable Mercy Flight to increase its weather-related capabilities.

“We’ve gone from what they call VFR, Visual Flight Rules, to be able to fly IFR or Instrument Flight Rules like the commercial jets and things like that,” he said. “So, this has broadened our capability with inclement weather – to be able to fly through much greater weather events.”

Ground ambulance transport decreased by about 6 percent, he said, with 9,649 calls for service resulting in 7,191 instances of patient contact (transports, lift assists and treatments without transport).

Gugliuzza said the company continues to battle the coronavirus virus from the front lines.

“We’ve worked hard to keep our crews protected,” he said, adding that those who wanted the vaccine were able to be fully vaccinated by mid-January.

He emphasized the importance of keeping staff and patients safe and protected, and thanked Genesee County Emergency Management Services for being “great partners” in meeting the PPE needs.

Gugliuzza said Mercy Flight’s “big challenge coming up now is essentially staffing, manpower and pay rates.”

“It’s a very tough market now between a lot of job openings, people not applying for a lot of jobs, and we’re competing with other industries outside of EMS,” he offered. “Part of that is we’re seeing big shifts in pay rates and those kind of things.”

He said Mercy Flight officials are working with payers (Medicare, Medicaid and others) to try to increase the pay scale. He also urged lawmakers to support first responders “and thus the safety and welfare of their constituents with legislative action when necessary.”

“Many of the fee schedules haven’t been adjusted in years and it really becomes detrimental to not just our agency but to EMS as a whole and other agencies as well,” Gugliuzza said. “We’re going to champion that cause and try to move this ahead in an effort to really make this a better industry for everybody.”

In legislative action, the committee approved an allocation of $12,825 for this year to support Mercy Flight.

Vaccination Process ‘In A Transition’

In a related development, Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, said the vaccination process is in a transition – shutting down the mass vaccination site at Genesee Community College and in Ridgeway, Orleans County as “every county in all of the state sites are really facing a reduction in demand of folks seeking the vaccine.”

“The amount of folks who are getting signed up now doesn’t really need to be in such a large location, so we’re kind of reverting back to a different model,” he said. “We’re taking more of a shift to the health department for a permanent site, so we will be there at least one day a week with walk-ins and/or appointments.”

Pettit said that health department staff is contacting business owners and managers to see if they are interested in on-site vaccinations for their employees and families, and also plan to travel to the various villages for one-day vaccines, either by appointment or walk-in.

“We’ve kind of hit our bulk number, I think, with the people that want it at the moment,” Pettit said. “So, it’s a little harder slogging at the moment and trying to talk to people about the importance of getting vaccinated and what that means to them – but also what opportunities it could afford them, like avoiding quarantine if you’re exposed, being able to go to different events and you wouldn’t have to pay for testing to attend. There’s a lot of different advantages that are out there by getting vaccinated.”

He said Johnson & Johnson (one shot) clinics are scheduled for Wednesday at GCC and at the Office for the Aging, with no appointments required.

“Johnson & Johnson -- one shot and you’re done. Two weeks from now you’ll be fully vaccinated,” he said.

June 13, 2020 - 7:51pm
posted by Press Release in news, notify, Mercy EMS, Mercy Flight.

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A Mercy Flight helicopter responded to Edgewood Drive in Batavia around 7 o'clock tonight after a man riding a bicycle suffered a medical condition.

A passerby saw the man and pulled him out of a ditch off the roadway and minutes later Mercy EMS and Genesee County sheriff's deputies were on the scene.

Mercy EMS personnel administered CPR to the man, who was transported to Erie County Medical Center. The Town of Batavia Fire Department also was on the scene. The initial call came in around 6:20 p.m.

Submitted photos.

June 3, 2020 - 4:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in Mercy Flight, charity, Cruising for Mercy Flight, news, batavia.

A fundraising event this Sunday called "Cruising for Mercy Flight" has been cancelled.

It was to feature a Mercy Flight helicopter on a tractor-trailer along with vintage automobiles and hot rods, leaving the Genesee County Fairgrounds at about 1 p.m. escorted by Sheriff's deputies for a countywide convoy.

"The sheriff cannot guarantee the safety of the event," wrote Pam Cherry, Mercy Flight Outreach coordinator for Batavia. "We would like to offer participants to email me pictures of their classic cars and we will share them on social media as a virtual classic car show."

Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, especially Undersheriff Brad Mazur, the Genesee County Agricultural Society, and the Batavia and Le Roy police departments were working to make the event possible. It was the brainchild of Bill and Jeanne Freeman.

Send Cherry a digital photo of your ride at: [email protected]

May 4, 2020 - 6:40pm

Looking to literally buy some time while waiting to see if another round of federal stimulus funding transpires, the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee today tabled a pair of resolutions connected to Mercy Flight and the Genesee County Fair.

After hearing reports from Michael Gugliuzza, director of medical operations for Mercy Flight, and Amanda Gallo of the Genesee County Ag Society that touched upon lower revenues and uncertainty stemming from the COVID-19 Pandemic, respectively, committee members voted to hold off on contracts that specified the amount of the county’s financial support for the two agencies.

The resolution for Mercy Flight funding calls for the county to contribute $12,825 to back air medical transfer service in the county for 2020. That amount is the same as what was provided in 2019.

The resolution for the Ag Society has the county’s sponsorship of 4-H Judging and Premiums during the 2020 Genesee County Fair at $11,000, which also mirrors last year’s support.

County Manager Jay Gsell informed the committee that Mercy EMS did receive money for Personal Protection Equipment and from the first round of federal stimulus because of its combined operations (ground and air service), but that wasn’t enough to make up for a drop-off in activity.

“You heard Mike talking about what the ground service and flight service have been experiencing – about a 40 percent drop in their actual service calls, and that’s really since the beginning of this year,” Gsell said. “They’re moving through it with regard to both the commitment that they have and obviously their significant presence here in the county, both at the County Airport and at Gateway II across Route 98 from the original county industrial park.”

The Genesee County Fair currently is scheduled for July 25-August 1, but those dates aren’t etched in stone due to the coronavirus and its impact upon the local business community.

“Once they have a fair date for certain, (funding is done) on a reimbursement basis – once the judging occurs,” Gsell said. “If they have it and they do the judging, then we make the payment based on the invoices, so we have a little bit of time there.”

Committee Chair Andrew Young, noting the lack of revenue and other factors, asked if this is something “that we can hold off on until we understand what’s going on with our revenue?”

To which Gsell responded: “We’d like to think that between the governor and Mr. (Robert) Mujica (Jr., NYS budget director) that they’ll fairly soon start telling us what they’re going to be doing with the state budget … and then we start looking at what that means to us in terms of general state aid and obviously sales tax – with sales tax being the really big driver.”

Gsell also said he hoped that another federal stimulus bill provides money to fund state and local governments by the end of the month, which would mean “another trillion-plus dollars is put into play across the country.”

Committee members Gregg Torrey and John Deleo along with alternate member Gordon Dibble joined Young in voting to table the resolutions, which likely will be placed on the group’s June 1 meeting agenda.

“We will wade through this,” Young said. “The funding through the next stimulus bill is really the wild card. I don’t know that we have a lot of other good news to look forward to … if it doesn’t happen, we’ll have to deal with it.”

October 17, 2019 - 4:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in Mercy Flight, batavia, Pit Crew CPR training, news.

Press release:

On Friday, Oct. 18th, Mercy Flight will be partnering with the City of Batavia Fire Department for Pit Crew CPR training.

“Pit Crew CPR is a team-oriented approach to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) that has delivered outstanding results for sudden cardiac arrest victims," said Denise Cuillo, Mercy Flight’s director of Education and CQI. "By working together as a structured team to provide the highest quality CPR, we can greatly improve the victim’s chance of survival.

"A noticeable change to our approach that the community will see is that all care must be provided immediately, at the scene. In these crucial first moments, there is nothing that an ER can do that we cannot, and any delay in those treatments will greatly reduce the victim’s chance of survival. We cannot provide the quality of care and the structured teamwork necessary in a moving ambulance.”

With the implementation of Pit Crew CPR, bystanders may notice that emergency response crews are on-scene longer than they are used to seeing. While training is starting with the City of Batavia Fire Department, further application of this program will include training with volunteer fire agencies throughout Genesee County.

Training will take place at the City of Batavia Fire Department, 18 Evans St., Batavia, from 2 to 6 p.m. tomorrow. Each training is expected to last approximately 90 minutes. This event is not open to the public.

If you wish to receive more information about the implementation of this program, please contact Denise Cuillo ([email protected]; 716.626.5808, ext.1320).

About Mercy Flight

Mercy Flight Inc., d/b/a Mercy Flight of Western New York and Mercy EMS, is an independent, nonprofit provider of medical transport services. It began in 1981 as the first medically dedicated air ambulance service in New York State.

Today, the charitable organization operates four helicopter bases staffed by Pilots, Flight Paramedics and Flight Nurses in Buffalo (headquarters), Olean, Springville, and Batavia. Long-distance-air medical transports are conducted using a Learjet 31 and the same critical care medical teams that staff the helicopters. Flight physicians also join the team as needed based on the condition of the patient.

Mercy Flight’s ground ambulance division, Mercy Flight EMS, provides service for Genesee County, Niagara County, and the Town of Concord and Village of Springville.

Together, the organization’s employees, now more than 200 strong, support the mission of being “A BEACON OF HOPE...WHEN MINUTES MATTER.” For more information about Mercy Flight, sponsoring a patient mission at a donation of $1,420 or for details on upcoming events please visit www.mercyflight.org.

August 6, 2019 - 4:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in Mercy Flight, batavia, news, charity.

Press release:

On Saturday, Aug. 24th from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Mercy Flight will host its annual open house at the Mercy EMS Base.

The Mercy Flight Batavia Base, located at 8050 Call Parkway, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day. We kindly ask you to support this remarkable celebration.

The day will be filled with plenty to enjoy, including a tour of the base, food, refreshments, and activities for the family.

Mercy Flight was founded on the premise of wanting to help more patients during their time of need. Since our inception in 1981, Mercy Flight has grown from one part-time crew to 24/7 air operations in Buffalo, Batavia, and Olean, and ground ambulance operations in Springville, Genesee County, and Niagara County.

Having transported more than 26,000 patients by helicopter and conducting countless ground ambulance missions, Mercy Flight has truly been Western New York’s beacon of hope WHEN MINUTES MATTER.

At Mercy Flight, we pride ourselves on performing our lifesaving services without regard to our patients’ insurance status or their ability to pay. While third-party payers reimburse a portion of each flight’s cost, we rely heavily on the generous support of community contributors like you.

We would greatly appreciate the donation of a product or service to support this essential and well-attended community event. Would you so generously consider donating an item or certificate for our basket auction?

I would be happy to pick up any donations you offer. Please contact me at 585.250.3002 or [email protected] to arrange.

Pam Cherry, Outreach Coordinator - Batavia, Mercy Flight Inc.

May 21, 2018 - 5:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mercy EMS, Mercy Flight, batavia, business, news.

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The dedication and ribbon cutting for the new Mercy EMS headquarters on Call Road, off of Route 98, in Batavia, was more than just a celebration of the new facility. It was an expression of gratitude for the Mercy Flight/EMS staff and chance to honor Mercy's cofounder, Doug Baker.

A plaque honoring Baker, pictured above, will be placed on the new building.

For his part, Baker thanked the Genesee County community for entrusting its emergency medical transport services to Mercy EMS and Mercy Flight.

"I'm here to you say thank you for the confidence and courtesy of the acceptance we've had in this community," Baker said. "From the governmental agencies, from the fire and the police, from the hospital, and from the whole community at large. And last but not least certainly the employees. We're very very lucky. Don't think we take it for granted. It's pretty special."

Mercy Flight became Baker's vision in 1981 and he, along with Sister Sheila Marie Walsh, Dr. Matthew Burke, and Dr. James Ehinger, came together to create Mercy Flight that year. It became the first helicopter emergency transport service in New York. The first helicopter based in Batavia was in 2006. In 2006, Mercy EMS became the designated ambulance service for the county.

Since then, the ambulance crew has operated from cramped quarters in the former St. Jerome's Hospital on Bank Street. The new facility not only gives them more space, it will offer better space for training and for eating and resting between calls, especially on long 12- and 24-hour shifts.

Bob Bausch, chairman of the Genesee County Legislature, was among those who congratulated Mercy Flight on its new facility.

"It's a true symbol of your commitment to the residents of Genesee County but more importantly thank you for what you offer day in day out," Bausch said. "You provided an exceptional level of service and this new facility will only enhance those services."

The dedication prayer was offered by Pastor Dan Dart, who noted Mercy EMS came to his aid once and he got to ride in "the whirlybird." He thanked the staff for their dedication to the health and safety of our community.

"Personally, then, on the receiving end, I say, 'Oh wow, I say thank you to all these folks for this building,' " Dart said. "It's going to help facilitate these folks to do the work that they do much more efficiently. It's a great, practical building -- all throughout, just amazing."

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Doug Baker

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Pastor Dan Dart.

May 3, 2018 - 12:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mercy EMS, Mercy Flight, batavia, business, news.

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A new, spacious headquarters for Mercy Flight/Mercy EMS will serve as a much-needed home away from home once the ribbon is cut on the new facility off Route 98 in Batavia on May 21.

"I’m looking forward to the crews being able to move into a home," said Bill Schutt, business development manager for Mercy EMS. "That was the whole gist of this thing --  give them a home while they were at work.

"They spend a lot of time here. They spend a lot of shifts here. They spend a lot of time together, probably more so than families. Holiday time when we’re home enjoying our family, they're here still working."

The 12,000-square-foot facility has bays for ambulances in half the space and the other half contains offices, storage, showers, a workout area, a day room, a quiet room, a kitchen suitable for crews to enjoy meals with their families, and a large conference room.

"The space is large enough to house the ambulances, keep them out of the weather and to provide everything the crews need throughout their 12- or 24-hour shifts," said Scott Wooton, VP of finance for Mercy Flight. "If they’re here for a 24-hour shift, they need to be able to prepare food. They need to be able to wash their uniform if they come back from a call where their uniform is soiled.

"They need to be able to rest. They need to be able to sit down and chart stuff. This has been a need right from the start. It’s only that it’s taken nine years for us to put all the pieces together and make it happen."

The $2.5 million facility was largely financed through assistance from M&T Bank and the Genesee County Economic Development Center, which was able to provide tax-exempt financing.

That assistance was critical to making the new building possible, Wooton said.

"We certainly don’t have that much cash on hand so we couldn’t do it without the financing and being able to do it in a tax-exempt way keeps that interest rate more manageable for us and spread it out in a way that the monthly payments are more manageable," Wooton said.

David Ciurzynski, business development manager with Manning Squires Hennig, said one of the key features of the new building is its energy efficiency. The large garage doors that are all glass will allow a lot of natural light into the ambulance bays and all lighting throughout the building is LED. The energy efficiency will help Mercy EMS reduce its operating costs.

The pre-engineered building also helped reduce costs and accelerate construction time.

"We were able to keep the construction period tight so they can get in and get it in use as quickly as possible," Ciurzynski said. A pre-engineered building allows you a lot of flexibility on time because components come quickly but it also gives you a very handsome building they can use for years to come and it’s exapandable."

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