Ewa Beach gets its own ambulance service - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Ewa Beach gets its own ambulance service

EWA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Ambulances usually aren't stationed at golf courses but considering the City's needs out in West Oahu officials say it's become the perfect pairing.

Ewa Beach residents are closer to bandages, gauze and emergency attention.  Today the City blessed its new ambulance station at the Ewa Villages Golf course.  The former pro shop, which closed three years ago and has sat vacant, will be the paramedic's office. The facility is already owned by the city and was the most efficient and cost effective option in the area.

"First of all having an ambulance here will service this community, but it will also allow the Waipahu and Kapolei ambulances to stay in their communities and service their communities better so even though this addition is focused on this community it really helps all of West Oahu," said James Ireland, Emergency Services Director. "The need for EMS service is higher than ever and I think it is going to be a great asset for the medical care of this community."

Since the Hawaii Medical Center West hospital closure transit time for paramedics grew and so did wait times in emergency rooms.  So while ambulance service is helpful a new emergency room in West Oahu is the bigger need.

"Travel to the incident to the hospital has been longer because from Ewa Beach they've had to go as far as Straub, Wahiawa General, Pali Momi which is further than Hawaii Medical Center West was but we haven't had any reports of any patient condition changes because of that extra transport time," said Ireland.

"Everybody knows it's a problem. Everybody is moving forward with it," said Peter Carlisle, Honolulu Mayor. "Ewa Beach has been growing exponentially with 20,000 more people from 2000 to 2010 and it's going to keep on growing.  It needs to have the type of servicing this ambulance will provide and its now dedicated to Ewa Beach and it's the first time they've had a dedicated ambulance to them in this area.  It will be faster and quicker and every second counts when life is at risk."

Queen's Medical Center and St. Francis Healthcare continue negotiations on a sale however it's not a done deal so neither side is saying much.  However lawmakers predict negotiations could wrap up in about three months.  Then there will be an estimated $13 to $60 million worth of renovations to the facility.

"In my prediction we're hoping the emergency room will be up and running within a year," said State Rep. Ryan Yamane, (D) House Health Committee Chair.  "We don't want to get anybody's false hopes up. We wanted it quicker but the process is a private process. It's going to go not only through the courts and legal issues but then from there the renovation process."

"This is a young growing community and we certainly need to have the healthcare that is necessary for a growing community such as West Oahu," said State Sen. Will Espero, who represents Ewa Beach.

As for the ambulance station, it is near single family homes so units won't speed away from the course with sirens blaring.

"This is a residential area and so what I think we are going to do is have the ambulance exit out of the community without its lights and sirens without speeding and there isn't much in the way of obstructions with stop signs or lights and once they get to the major intersections then activate the emergency equipment. I think that will not delay them a significant amount and at the same time we'll be respectful to the community," said Ireland.

So golfers will have to come up with another excuse for flubbing a shot.

"It's just another noise," said George Zane, golfer and West Oahu resident. "They have to have more stations more ambulances because we have more people."

The new ambulance station is up and operational and ready to respond to calls. It costs about a million dollars a year to operate. Most of that funding for the first year has come from state assistance. This is the first new paramedic station the City has opened in four years.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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