“We have a total of three helicopters in operation all the time, we're doing somewhere between 800 and 900 flights a year,” says Paul Hyland, president and CEO of Mercy Flight Central in
In July alone, Mercy Flight made more than 100 flights for a variety of critical care needs.
“This is where your farm accidents happen, where your on-scenes, plus your community hospitals. We're taking the patient from the outreaches to the higher level of care hospitals,” says Hyland who adds the transport service also handles organ transplant transfers for hospitals.
Mercy Flight Central began in 1992 as a small, medical helicopter service and after 16 years, the need for the choppers has not slowed down. Mercy Flight now covers all of New York State with two locations, one of which is in Ontario County, near Canandaigua. In 2006, the service transported 744 patients; 650 adults, 94 children. All are transferred regardless of age or financial status. Since its inception, Mercy Flight Central has seen a 10% increase annually in the demand for its service.
While its newest helicopter is running fast and smooth, the service’s other two helicopters are getting old. Each is more than 20 years old and the parts are becoming more and more difficult to replace and repair.
“Every moving part has a time life. Once that time life has expired, that part comes off and a brand new one goes on,” says Hyland who points to a spotlight on one of the helicopters, noting its price tag of roughly $48,000.
“These aircraft are inspected, on a daily basis as well as on a monthly, annual basis,” says Hyland who says that while the aircrafts are in solid working order, the cost to maintain them is increasing and it would be better to have another, new, faster helicopter in service.
Mercy Flight Center derives most of its funding from public donations. It does not receive federal or state funding.
“How many people do you know that are driving 25 year old cars? We're trying to save lives out there. Faster, better, easier maintainance. The problem is, they're really expensive,” says Hyland who is quick to add, it’s a cost that pays off for the entire state in the long run.
“Once we land, we treat the person like they would be in an emergency room, and then we get them to the hospital as fast as possible.”
If you would like to make a donation to Mercy Flight call: 585-396-0584