© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lear Jet Now Available for Medical Transports

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Mercy Flight and Prior Aviation are expanding their air transportation service for patients needing transport to hospitals in other cities.

Mercy Flight is best know for the helicopters it uses to transport critically ill or injured patients from outlying areas to city hospitals. But such craft aren't realistic alternatives if a patient needs hospitalization in another city.

Mercy Flight coordinates as many as 100 air transports a year from Buffalo to other cities. It's had a twin-turbo propeller aircraft at its disposal. Yesterday, it added a Lear Jet to the fleet that's twice as fast. Mercy Flight President Douglas Baker says it's a partnership between his agency and Prior Aviation.

"Mercy Flight's role in all this is equipping and staffing it," Baker said. "Prior supplies the aircraft, pilots and maintenance. It belongs to Prior Aviation but remains available for our use."

Representatives the local hospitals, emergency medical technicians and elected officials gathered in a hangar at Prior Aviation to check-out the specially-equipped jet. Diane Harter coordinates medical transports at Women and Children's Hospital. She says a quick and efficient way of transporting critically ill children to hospitals in other cities is essential.

"Some children are born with extremely rare diseases. There aren't specialists for every single thing, so sometimes we need to transport a child elsewhere," Harter said.

The Lear Jet has a range of 1,800 miles, meaning it can fly from Buffalo to Miami without refueling.

Prior Aviation officials say the jet will continue to be used for executive travel. But if a call comes in for an emergency transport, they say it can be quickly converted.

Says Mercy Flight's Doug Baker, "we're in the big leagues now."