Mercy Flights


Mercy Flights

Mercy Flights is a ground ambulance and air medical transport service based in Medford, Oregon.

Mercy Flights was founded as a non-profit organization in 1949 by George Milligan, an air traffic controller in Medford, after a friend of his died of polio in Southern Oregon, unable to survive the long, slow ground transport to Portland.

George Milligan and the Bamboo Bomber, 1949

Through fundraising efforts by schoolchildren, scouts, and others in the community, George Milligan raised enough money to buy the first aircraft, a twin engine Cessna, which was known as the bamboo bomber. A membership program was established which provided people in the community an opportunity to contribute to Mercy Flights, while insuring that they would be financially covered in the event that they needed air medical transportation. To date, Mercy Flights has flown more than 15,000 patients throughout the western United States. Mercy Flights' ground ambulance service currently serves more than 18,000 patients each year. Mercy Flights currently has two pressurized King Air C-90s. These powerful twin-engine turboprop airplanes are pressurized up to 30,000 feet.

In 1992, Mercy Flights purchased Medford Ambulance Service, expanding operations to include ground ambulance transportation. This acquisition combined the strengths of these two community service organizations, building on the varied background and experience of each. The decision to expand in this way followed discussions with both Rogue Valley Medical Center and Providence Hospital, which established the importance of building a regional medical transportation network. In 1993, Mercy Flights acquired Rogue Ambulance, expanding its service area to include the communities of White City, Eagle Point, and Shady Cove.

In the past, the outlying communities of Prospect and Butte Falls were served by all volunteer ambulance services, which were struggling with the financial difficulties of operating ambulances in the nineties. Through a cooperative effort, these first responders and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) continue to serve their communities, but now do so as a valuable part of the Mercy Flights organization. These communities benefit from the assurance of consistent, professional emergency medical services and a stronger economic base, and the EMTs benefit through increased training, improved equipment, and some financial compensation for the crucial role they play.

In 1995, Mercy Flights and Timberland entered a joint effort to provide an emergency helicopter service available to all citizens and agencies within a 150-mile radius of Medford, further expanding the type of medical transportation provided. This added resource allows rapid transport for critical patients, as well as improved access to remote areas. Mercy Flights operates a twin-engine Eurocopter BO-105. It’s fully customized with state-of-the-art in-flight medical equipment. This light, compact helicopter has four rotors with composite blades to ensure maneuverability. All of its main systems (hydraulics, electric, fuel, lubrication) were designed to be fully redundant.

Mercy Flights sponsors an EMS specific Explorer post through the Learning for Life program of the Boy Scouts of America. Through this program, young people between the ages of 16 and 21 receive training and experience in EMS and are able to “explore” this as a career option. The young explorers are medically trained at a First Responder level and are used at large public events, scouting events, and disaster relief efforts such as the flooding problems experienced by Jackson County in January 1997.

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