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Articles > All About Mercy Flight Western New York

A Beacon of Hope, When Minutes Matter
9 Feb 2012

1981 dedication of Mercy Flight’s very first helicopter.

More than three decades ago, Douglas H. Baker had a dream to transport critically injured or ill patients to the hospital by helicopter, just as they had in the military. As a result, he founded Mercy Flight Western New York in 1981. This was the first dedicated air-medical transport program in New York State and one of the first in the country.

From day one, Mercy Flight has been independent of any hospital. Delivering patients to whichever facility will best suit their medical needs is accomplished by working closely with the regional network of hospitals, ground-based EMS personnel, law enforcement, and fire authorities.

Doug’s vision still lives on today, as Mercy Flight is one of the country’s few remaining air-medical programs which is not-for-profit. It is further considered one of the most efficiently operated programs of its kind, with 85% of revenue going directly to the Air Medical Program.

In 1981, Mercy Flight operations were directed from one base in Buffalo, 12 hours per day, utilizing one leased helicopter, and staffed by only three paramedics and two pilots. Over the past 30 years, Mercy Flight has conducted more than 19,000 patient missions, and thousands of Ground Crew Safety Training and Community Education sessions, throughout Western New York, Northwest Pennsylvania, and Southern Ontario. Map Today, Mercy Flight operations are conducted from three bases (Buffalo, Olean, and Batavia), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Mercy Flight Team now consists of 26 paramedics, 27 nurses, 13 pilots, 9 air medical communications specialists, 6 aircraft mechanics, and 11 staff for administration, development, finance, and facilities management. With the service still going thirty years later, the newest helicopter in the fleet was dedicated on August 30, 2011.

On February 8, 2012, the Historical Society of the Tonawandas hosted a program presented by Marc H. Boies, Mercy Flight Operations Manager. Marc is the son of long-time historical society member, Pat (Boies) Slater and the late Hank Boies. Marc has been actively involved in aviation for most of his adult life. A graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, Florida, Marc subsequently received his law degree from the University of Buffalo. After ten years of active military service as a U.S. Army Medevac pilot, Marc returned to Western New York, where he commanded a New York National Guard Medevac Unit. He joined Mercy Flight as a helicopter pilot in 2006. Despite the demands of his current administrative responsibilities, he still flies missions for Mercy Flight, as well as continuing to serve the United States of America as a Lt. Col. in the New York Army National Guard.