Gratitude has many faces in an organization like Mercy Flight Central. It begins with the patient who, at first, may not realize the circumstance of our meeting, but beyond their medical emergency will often reach out to us in thanks. Some of the most heartwarming stories come from parents whose child recovers after receiving our care and that of other medical providers following a horrific accident or critical illness. As in the case of one such patient, a story shared in this annual report, the parents convey their horror, disbelief, and eventual gratitude that their child is now a happy, healthy and energetic six-year old with a bright future.
The face of gratitude changes to the donor who supports our mission because of a loved one, a friend or just because they appreciate how vital our service is for this community. A recent story came to us through a woman whose terminally ill friend was in the hospital. She said that her friend had a room with a view of the helipad and showed such joy each time the helicopter landed outside her window. Although we did not take part in the care of her friend, in some way, we connected with her. “Thank you for all that you do…”, was the simple message and realization of the importance of our mission.
Gratitude always expresses itself in the face of our pilots and medical teams who benefit from your donations, helping to make us a better organization. As with the advancements in medical equipment and the management of critical patients, ours is a story of continuous improvement. The way we managed patients in past decades has experienced a dramatic change. We now benefit from larger and faster aircraft, better standards of care, more advanced medical formulary and high-end medical equipment, along with the expertise to care for the most critical patients.
Finally, mine is the face of gratitude for your belief in Mercy Flight Central’s mission. Each donation has a story behind the gift. We don’t always know why a donor chooses to give, but it keeps our purpose strong. Together we are saving lives!
Jeff Bartkoski, President / CEO
In the Spring of 2015 the Bookmiller’s story became one of the many of survival in our history. We are eternally grateful to our patients and their families for allowing us to share these stories of our mission.
May 16, 2015 started as a pleasant Saturday for the Bookmiller family. So much so that Mark arrived home from work mid-afternoon, hoping to surprise the boys, Braden (8) and Jacob (4), with a fishing trip later in the day. As Mark was arriving from work, Amanda was planning her departure for work.
Mark began working on the tasks he had planned to accomplish, including removal of an old clothesline and poles, which required use of the lawn tractor. After he finished with the poles, he decided to mow the lawn. By now, Amanda had left for her evening shift – taking note of Mark’s progress.
As Mark continued his work, he switched on the mower blades to cut the tall grass near the patio. After reversing the tractor it bucked up and over an unknown object. Shock and distress overtook Mark as he realized what had occurred. Jacob had been behind the tractor and had fallen and was the unknown object that the tractor had backed over. Jacob was trapped and helpless under the weight of the tractor. It was unknown to Mark the extent of Jacob’s injuries.
Mark’s immediate reaction was to call 911 and stop the bleeding from Jacob’s wounds. Jacob’s older brother Braden had seen the entire accident and being so brave, managed to keep his cool by helping his dad to care for his brother. He pulled frozen packages of meat from the garage freezer to put under the tractor tires to take some of the weight off of Jacob.
Amanda received the frantic call from Mark ten to fifteen minutes after leaving for work, telling her that she needed to get back home immediately. Before he hung up, she heard him say “Jacob, don’t move”. She recalls emergency vehicles heading in the same direction and dreaded the worst, but she never could have imagined the serious nature of his urgent call. She arrived home to see emergency personnel everywhere (firemen, EMTs, volunteers and State Troopers). As she got out of the car she saw Braden standing by the garage. She rushed over and recalled his words, “Daddy ran over Jacob out back”.
The EMS personnel evaluated the situation and determined immediately that Mercy Flight Central should be dispatched. The medical team for the day was Jessica, Flight Nurse and Alfredo, Flight Paramedic. Between the two team members, they possessed a combined 20-plus years’ experience in the air medical industry. Multiple thoughts run through their minds as they prepared to launch. As experienced medical providers, they brainstorm what injuries they would encounter. Going airborne with just that bit of information they quickly estimated the weight of a typical four-year old and planned out medication doses and equipment settings. Both are parents and fully understand the extent of injuries and emotions they would both face at the scene.
The scene that Amanda encountered would cause panic in any parent. Jacob was lying on the ground unable to move pinned beneath the tractor. He was fully awake and aware of the flurry of activity around him. Amanda recalled telling him that he would be ok and that she needed him to stay awake. The entire time she was speaking these words to her son, her conflicting mind kept telling her that he was going to die. She looked up at one of the EMTs and told him to “…get Mercy Flight here now”! The EMT assured her that they were already en-route. The minutes seemed like hours. While waiting for Mercy Flight Central to arrive the medics attempted to lift the tractor off of Jacob, but Amanda and Mark both called out for them to stop, as they had only then seen the horror and extent of Jacob’s injuries.
The scene at Jacob’s residence was only about ten minutes by air from Mercy Flight Central’s base in Canandaigua. The location was identified and the pilot, Dan Muller, set the aircraft down on a blocked off road. Three EMTs stood with bags and chalks twenty yards in front of the helicopter. This is not typical nor was the look on their faces. Accident scenes are intense, but this is always amplified when a child is involved, and worse yet, when the injury was this serious.
As the helicopter landed, the emergency personnel began to prepare for the arrival of Jessica and Aflredo. As difficult as it was, Amanda and Mark were asked to allow the team to come in and take over the care of Jacob. Before getting up, Amanda looked into Jacob’s eyes and told him that she had to go talk to the police officer (Jerrod Trulin) and that she loved him so much. Jessica and Alfredo approached the back of the house to find fire personnel working to remove bolts from the dual head mower that was covering Jacob from his mid-abdomen down. At first glance of the scene, they assumed a lower extremity amputation. Jacob was very pale, motionless and wincing in pain. He gave one-word responses to vital questions. The EMT pointed under the mower deck without saying a word. Jessica and Alfredo looked under the mower with a flashlight and immediately concluded – this was a devastating injury and they needed to move quickly.
Jacob’s injury was one the medical team had never encountered in their combined years of experience in the industry. Medications were prepped and the on call medical control physician was contacted over the radio to discuss treatment options. Given the severity of Jacob’s injuries, it was not feasible to wait for a physician to arrive at the scene to assist. Jessica and Alfredo began the delicate task of disengaging Jacob’s intestine and bowel from the mower head. Within minutes Jacob was secured in the stretcher, which briefly paused for Amanda and Mark to give him a kiss before being boarded on the running helicopter.
The transport was just a short fourteen minutes. By ground, the trip would have taken an hour – time that Jacob could not afford. Jessica and Alfredo began treatment and maintained Jacob’s vitals during the short flight. They radioed ahead and provided a status to the hospital on Jacob’s condition. The medical control physician had called ahead to Strong’s pediatric team to alert them of the Jacob’s arrival. They would be awaiting the helicopter on the rooftop helipad to accompany Jessica and Alfredo to complete the transfer of Jacob’s care. Jacob was in surgery a short time later.
The State Trooper at the scene, Gia Paddock, drove the Bookmiller’s to Strong Hospital. Now the wait began for Amanda, Mark and Braden. Hours later, the surgeon emerged with the news that Jacob was in rough shape but was alive. He had lost both his large and small intestine during the accident; lost the skin down the side of his right leg from hip to knee; sustained a broken right knee and broken large left toe. He would not be going home for some time and would have to be placed on the national transplant list for his intestines.
Jacob’s family spent the next five days at his bedside in the Pediatric ICU. He was in a medically induced coma to keep him from moving and pulling on the many tubes and lines that provided vital fluids and medications. When he was awakened, the breathing tube was removed. Jacob’s voice was raspy, but as Amanda recalls it was the best sound she had ever heard in her life. He spent the next five days in the PICU stepdown unit. Due to the loss of his intestines, Jacob was unable to eat any food, but continued on IV nutrition.
Over the next few weeks, Jacob would endure skin grafting, bandage changes, pin removal from his knee and toe, and physical therapy to learn to walk again. To everyone’s surprise, he recovered quickly and was discharged on July 2nd – only seven weeks after the accident.
In early November they received word that Jacob was officially listed for transplant. Only 21-days later, on November 25th, Jacob received his transplant. Within 24-hours of the surgery, it was obvious that Jacob was to be free of the sedation medications and breathing tube. He had an overwhelming amount of strength for just having gone through a 14-hour surgery. Six days after his transplant Jacob was able to eat food again. Two weeks later, Jacob was doing so well that the doctors were going to discharge him until his last biopsy indicated the onset of transplant rejection.
Rejection in the first two weeks is not unusual, but the doctors always have a game plan in place. Jacob was put on very large doses of strong medications to fight the rejection. After five weeks, Jacob was finally past the danger of rejection. His head surgeon, Dr. Kareem Abu-Elmadge, was one of the doctors who helped to develop the anti-rejection medication that was administered to Jacob.
The Bookmillers spent Thanksgiving, Jacob’s 5th birthday, Christmas and the New Year in the hospital. Jacob was discharged in January 2016, but relocated to the Ronald McDonald House near the hospital due to frequent appointments. On February 9, 2016, Jacob finally went home, although the family made multiple trips to Cleveland for routine follow up appointments. The family continues on a life long journey of appointments and medications, but Jacob is now living a normal and healthy life. Amanda and Mark attribute Jacobs recovery to the emergency responders, State Police, the Mercy Flight Central team, the Strong pediatric team and the surgeons. “They all took such good care of our baby. Who knows if he would still be here today. In the end, our Jacob is still here. To them, we are forever grateful”!
As for Jacob, he remembers every detail of that day and still tells his mom, dad and brother things that they don’t remember themselves. He remembers the towels Braden grabbed the kitchen towels, the extra helmets hanging in the helicopter, going into the OR and telling the nurses that “…mommy does not let him watch SpongeBob”! He said he was not following behind daddy playing or chasing him, but he was actually headed into the house because his “…hungry belly wanted a banana”. For being so young and so little, he completely understands that all of it was a horrible accident that could absolutely happen to anyone, anywhere. He has always had positive thoughts and makes everyone smile and laugh daily no matter the circumstances. He is the true definition of strength, courage and HERO. He is our HERO, as well as his brother Braden, who was able to remain calm and help his dad until help could arrive. As Amanda says, “lucky and blessed to have two Amazing boys to call our sons”!
In April 2016, the quiet phase of the LOOKING UP! Capital Campaign for Mercy Flight Central was kicked off at an event hosted by Constellation Brands. Multiple events were held throughout the year to meet the $4.5 million-dollar goal.
In September, the public phase of the campaign was kicked off following a private event in which Rob Sands, President and CEO of Constellation Brands announced a $500,000 gift from Constellation Brands and Sands Family Foundation in support of advancements to aviation equipment, medical technology and staff training. The gift supports the LOOKING UP! Capital Campaign, Co-Chaired by Ginny Clark, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, Constellation Brands and Chris Ramsey, Owner, Ramsey Constructors.
The campaign is expected to conclude in August of 2017.
|Virginia & Rob Clark|
|Thomas & Elisabeth Judson|
|Tom & Annie Kane|
|Tom & Betsy Kubiak|
|Marie C. & Joseph C. Wilson Foundation|
|Dennis M. Mullen|
|Oliver B. Merlyn Foundation|
|Ralph & Maureen Pennino|
|Ramsey Constructors, Inc.|
|Richard T. Bell Foundation|
|Rochester Regional Health Systems|
|David Klein & Janine Schue|
|The Sands Family Foundation|
|The Saunders Foundation|
|Wegman Family Charitable Foundation|
Bristol Mountain Sip-n-Ski Winemaker’s Dinner
Celebrating year 4 with this one of a kind event. On Feb. 4th, participants were treated to an evening of wine tasting from various New York State wineries, while making their way around the loops of the Nordic (cross country) tract at Bristol Mountain. Following we enjoyed a buffet style dinner in the summit lodge along with a silent auction.
Highlander Cycle Tour
Climbing Strong since 2000, the Highlander Cycle Tour is an annual charity bicycle tour of New York’s famous Finger Lakes Wine Country. 2017 marks a return to the original date and our hallmark courses. The Highlander is centered in the Bristol Highlands, above the western shore of picturesque Canandaigua Lake. It consists of varying road and off-road courses, ranging in length from 30K to 120 K, and degrees of difficulty from family friendly ride to quad burning. Some optional climbs even hit incredible grades up to 23%. For sure the Highlander will treat the rider to some of the finest riding in North America.
Rochester Power Boat Association Battleship Run on Seneca Lake
A Poker Run for high performance boating while possibly winning neat stuff and donating to a worthy charity. On this run, it is about an 18-mile trip north to Barrett Marine where you will pick up your first “cards” by pulling up next to a dock and reaching into a fishing net extended to you. Then it’s off to stop #2 back at the hotel, then another 19 miles to stop #3 in Watkins Glen where you get to eat lunch. Finally, there’s an “un-paced” (on your own) run back to the hotels in time for dinner, prizes and awards,
Canandaigua Lake Trout Derby
The Canandaigua Lake Trout Derby is a classic event for local fisherman, but it’s also a significant fundraiser for Camp Good Days & Special Times, Mercy Flight Central, and Hospeace House, Inc. Since its inception, the Canandaigua Lake Trout Derby has raised more than $189,000 for charity. This event is coordinated by the Canandaigua Area Chamber of Commerce, the South Bristol Fish & Game Club, and Trout Unlimited, Canandaigua Lake Chapter