Sunday, May 04, 2014

Ontario County, New York considers second helicopter service

Canandaigua, N.Y. 

HOPEWELL — A new helicopter emergency service is coming to Seneca Falls, and it will be used to assist Ontario County emergency responders in getting severely hurt people to local hospitals.

In a report delivered at the Ontario County Board of Supervisors' Public Safety Committee meeting on Monday, Ontario County 911 Director Steve DeChick explained how Life Net medical services will add its one helicopter to the options EMS responders have when someone needs to be evacuated quickly from serious car crashes, industrial and farm accidents, drownings or explosions in that first “golden hour” of treatment.

DeChick provided a map of the area and response times to Ontario County locations for Life Net and Mercy Flight Central, which has three helicopters available. Based on those flight times, DeChick recommended that the Oaks Corners, Northside, Geneva City, White Springs and West Lake Road fire districts use Life Net when they need helicopter airlift service. Mercy Flight, responding from its Canandaigua base, would serve all other fire districts.

He explained that Mercy Flight had come in to discuss its services with the committee, compared to Life Net, which was soon to arrive.

“We didn’t know much about Life Net,” DeChick said. “We’ve met with both services since, and they’ve both said, ‘We’re available, we’re here and we’re able to provide services.’”

He added, “Mercy Flight is still able to respond to the vast majority of the county, but if Life Net is truly closer to the scene, that is who we plan on using going forward.”

DeChick, in his draft proposal, said that the 911 dispatcher would ascertain which helicopter in service from which company is the closest to the scene and coordinate calling out that helicopter — and the next-closest helicopter, if needed — to the scene.

DeChick said the services provide the same level of care.

“The Finger Lakes is very blessed to have two of these services available,” he said. “I think it’s wonderful. If we have a major accident, we may need all four helicopters. It’s a great resource."

Sheriff Philip Povero said the two airlift firms “have agreed to back each other up,” noting that “weather can be very tricky for helicopters and may make a difference in who can respond and transfer to an emergency facility.”


Ontario County 911 Director Steve DeChick