By Alicia Dziak

On Thursday, Sept. 20, Mercy Flight unveiled a new Bell 429 helicopter, which is joining their life saving fleet.

The unveiling ceremony, held at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital’s hangar, featured numerous speakers and a “fly over” of the new helicopter.

“It’s a very special day for us,” said Margie Ferrentino, executive vice president of Mercy Flight.

Speakers included Douglas Baker, founding president of Mercy Flight; Marc Boies, director of flight operations; Nils Gunnerson, BCH’s CEO; Darlene Schrantz, mother of the first Mercy Flight patient; Bill Krebs, Village of Springville mayor; Clyde Drake, Town of Concord supervisor; Patrick Gallivan, New York State Senator, Dave DiPietro, New York State Assemblyman; and Pastor Stan Handzlik.

“The capabilities (of this helicopter) are something we haven’t seen,” Boies noted, adding that it’s great to fly and that “response time will only get better.”

Gunnerson emphasized how the investment illustrates the “partnership in care” between BCH and Mercy Flight and Mercy EMS.

“I can sense the excitement and pride,” said Krebs. “Thank you for the investment in Springville.” He added that it means a lot to the economy of Springville, and will provide better care, complimenting Mercy EMS on their professional and compassionate care they already provide.

“It’s tremendous to have this facility here,” said Drake.

Senator Gallivan said that as a former sheriff and state trooper, that he saw first hand how many thousands of lives have been saved by Mercy Flight. “Today is an exciting day,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

DiPietro told a personal story about his son, in which Mercy EMS stepped in and saved his life.

The ceremony ended with Pastor Stan Handzlik blessing the aircraft.

“Our helicopter acquisition of three new Bell Helicopters, in addition to one more that we previously purchased, is major news for Mercy Flight,” Kate Glaser, Director of Marketing & Public Affairs for Mercy Flight, told the Springville Times after the ceremony last week.

“It means continued unparalleled emergency medical care in and around the Springville community and ultimately more lives saved when minutes matter. The new helicopters are faster, have a smoother ride for our patients, increased accessibility for our med crews, and they are IFR, meaning they fly instrument. This helps us fly through more extreme weather conditions when before we, at times, had to turn calls down due to the weather. We are proud to be this community’s beacon of hope when tragedy strikes.”

The new helicopter will be stationed at its helicopter hangar on the BCH campus in Springville.