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No. Mercy Flight Central staffs its operation with 80 people serving various roles including Registered Nurses and Certified Paramedics, Communications Specialists, helicopter (rotor wing) and airplane (fixed wing) pilots, mechanics, development/fundraising personnel and business office personnel. All play a crucial role in keeping operations flowing smoothly. Although we are not an organization of volunteers, we do have volunteers that assist us with the many fundraising events throughout the year.
Mercy Flight Central exists for the sole purpose of providing critical care to the most seriously sick and injured patients. Through the use of helicopters and airplanes, this high level of care can be provided throughout New York State and across the country. Registered Nurses and Certified Paramedics are trained in all aspects of critical care for interfacility and on-scene transports and are ready to provide appropriate interventions for all types of medical conditions. Medical control physicians are available for consultation should they be needed by air medical teams during transports. All aircraft are equipped with state of the art medical equipment along with an expanded formulary of medications for conditions that may arise during transport. Once air medical teams arrive and begin treatment they will remain with the patient until the transfer is complete – even if the aircraft cannot be used to complete the transfer. In these cases, air medical team will accompany the patient by ground ambulance to the hospital. Our motto, “Critical Care at Your Most Critical Hour” speaks volumes to our dedication and commitment to the community.
The Golden Hour is defined as the hour in which the lives of many critically injured trauma patients may be saved if definitive intervention is provided. Only 60 minutes from the moment of injury to notify the police; dispatch an ambulance to the scene; transport the victim to a hospital; summon the appropriate medical support staff; and perform the necessary life-saving treatment. Air medical transport can be a crucial step in saving the lives of critically ill and injured patients.
Many helicopter ambulance services in the U.S. are aligned with major hospitals. When this is the case, the hospital covers all of the costs of operations and new helicopter purchases. Mercy Flight Central is one of the few services in the U.S. which is not aligned with any hospital. As a freestanding non-profit, we are solely responsible for our operating costs. We presently serve more than 40 hospitals in our flying area. We do receive contributions from some of the hospitals we serve, but these donations amount to less than 2% of our total yearly budget.
Weather is the most common factor for declined flights. To avoid delay of patient care we routinely refer requests to other appropriate air medical agencies when all of our aircraft are busy with other transports or if the request is outside of our service area. Our coverage area includes New York State and beyond. The services provided by Mercy Flight Central are approved throughout New York State, into Pennsylvania, and Canada. The fixed wing air medical service provides care throughout the United States and Canada.
Hospitals, EMS, fire, and law enforcement agencies and 911 centers follow specific guidelines to determine whether air medical transport is utilized. Mercy Flight Central’s air medical personnel provide the highest level of pre-hospital care. Once our air medical personnel begin treatment, they will accompany the patient to the hospital, even if it is determined that helicopter transport cannot be completed due to changes in the weather or unusual circumstances.
Mercy Flight Central earns two-thirds of its operating expenses through the insurance coverage of the patients that are transported. The remaining one-third is covered by donations and special event fundraising. Each year we receive thousands of contributions from our direct mail appeal. We also receive more than a thousand contributions each year from individuals who designate their annual United Way contribution to us (designation number is 1902). Mercy Flight Central also receives contributions from area foundations and corporations as well as many service organizations and places of worship. We also make requests of elected officials for member item support and several counties and towns contribute each year. On occasion we receive a bequest.