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Mercy flights grounded during Hurricane Sandy

Mercy Flight Central, an upstate medical air service, shut down operations while hurricane Sandy blew over. Due to high wind warnings, they were not able to fly patients.Based in Canandaigua, NY, Mercy Flight serves 26 counties and about three million people.

The group says they didn't have to cancel any flights in advance, but in the time they were planning to be out of action they would usually fly about seven critically ill patients to various hospitals around the region.

Mercy Flight president and CEO Neil Snedeker said before the storm hit that the winds were predicted to be too strong for them to operate while the storm was in the region, and that means patients waiting for an ambulance.

"Most of the time from a good portion of the Finger Lakes area it's usually about 20 minutes or less for us to fly a patient into Rochester. Now with the severe weather and the patient has to go by ground, the patient's probably going to be in the back of the ambulance, probably for double that amount of time," Snedeker said.

Mercy's critical care crews planned to work with the ambulance services for the duration of the grounding.

Update: Mercy Flight Central is now fully operational. Crews were back in at 7 a.m. once the weather had cleared. Mercy Flight president and CEO Neil Snedeker says they have responded to two calls this morning.

WXXI/Finger Lakes Reporter for the Innovation Trail