HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A staffing shortage forced the city's Emergency Management Services division to close ambulance units Saturday night and Sunday.
The shutdowns occurred after two paramedics were injured in an accident at Ala Moana Center Saturday.
The Nanakuli ambulance unit was closed during the Saturday night graveyard shirt from 11 p.m. To 7 a.m., and continued through the day shift that ended at 3 p.m. The rig, which averages ten calls a day, sat idle in the parking lot of the Kaiser Nanaikeola Clinic, where it is stationed.
"Most of the time, though, it's out on emergency calls and stuff, and then the workers are usually parked right in back here. But I don't see no cars," said Pat Texeira, who lives across the street from the station.
We knocked on the locked office door and got no response.
Meanwhile, the Kaneohe rig was also idle in its garage. That unit was closed during Sunday's day shift, along with "quick response" units in Makakilo and Kaaawa.
Such shutdowns are very unusual. The last time ambulance units were closed was during Easter weekend, when there was another staffing shortage.
Sources said the ambulance crew members involved in Saturday's crash at Ala Moana Center were in the middle of their second straight eight-hour shift.
Hawaii News Now reported last May that crews have been forced to work 16-hour days because of the staffing shortage. Medics often call in sick simple because they're overworked and exhausted.
The city and the medic's union, the United Public Workers, had been talking about switching to 12-hour shifts, which would allow the city to run its 22 ambulances with one-third less staff each day. However, negotiations have stalled.
The closures leave residents concerned that help will take longer to arrived.
"The closest one would be Waianae then. Or Kapolei," said Texeira. "And if there was an emergency, it would take some time for them to get here."