A Niagara County municipality that learned it was losing its ambulance provider last month has a new one in place. Officials say entering into a contract with Mercy Flight and Mercy EMS makes sense, because the company is a desired partner for a forthcoming emergency services hub.
The partnership was announced in a brief news conference at Veteran's Memorial Community Park on Lockport Road Monday morning. The contract between the Town of Niagara and Mercy Flight took effect at midnight, immediately upon the termination of the service agreement the town had with Rural Metro.
The town was advised last month by Rural Metro that the company was ceasing the partnership. Town Supervisor Lee Wallace explained that his peers reached out to other local providers but it was Mercy Flight that was ready to step in.
Although there is a feeling of relief that service to residents was not interrupted, Wallace said he had been confident a deal would be in place before Rural Metro's commitment ended Sunday night.
"Right after this broke, and the Town of Niagara had their July board meeting, I went on record at that meeting as saying that I guarantee that by August 15 we will have a new provider," he said. "I was very confident. And believe me, I tend to be a realist. Sometimes I take a step back and look at things from a realistic point of view, but in this case I knew they would come to our rescue."
Mercy Flight officials say they do not actively seek new partnerships but, instead, was approached. Founder and president Douglas Baker said the company will work to live up to its reputation.
"Every place we've gone has been because we were asked to do so," Baker said.
Wallace suggested the new partnership makes sense, because Mercy Flight is a desired component in a planned emergency services hub to be located on the grounds of the former Army Reserve Center along Porter Road, not far from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and airport.
That project, Wallace said, is not a question of "if" but a matter of "when." Without giving a timeline, he pointed out that steps yet to be completed include the handing over of land and a cleanup of the abandoned facilities.
"It's a very drawn-out tedious process," he explained. "The federal government and U.S. Army take their time. We're kind of going at a snail's pace but on purpose. We want to make sure we do this right."