Personnel shortage closes ambulance unit in Honolulu

Personnel shortage closes ambulance unit in Honolulu

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A paramedic shortage caused a gap in ambulance coverage over the weekend. However the City maintains response time to emergencies was not compromised.

It is a concerning thought, not having paramedics on duty. But the Emergency Medical Services spokesperson says it really only takes being down one paramedic for it to happen.

The ambulance unit was stationed at Kuakini Medical Center. It covers the area from Chinatown to the airport. On Sunday morning from midnight to 8:00 am there were no paramedics on duty.

"Was the public in any jeopardy or at risk?"

"No. Absolutely not. It did take an ambulance out of operation for those hours but we were able to cover with the ambulances we do have in the town area," said Shayne Enright, Emergency Medical Services spokesperson.

Five units from surrounding areas covered the calls. Fortunately EMS says it was a relatively slow night with an average of four calls in the eight hours for the surrounding areas.

"We didn't have a high volume of 911 calls fortunately so we didn't see any impact. But we did have to close Charlie one from midnight to 8:00 am. It was due to a lack of personnel," said Enright.

The personnel shortage was not because of sick leave, but vacation time did play a part. The department recently switched to 12 hour shifts which had helped. However it's still working out the kinks.

"It has not happened since the change to the new 12 hour schedule. But even with the 12 hour schedule we still have vacancies," said Enright.

There are 25 vacancies in total which doesn't help. There are also 13 new EMT's that will be starting this month and another recruit class starts next month.

"We're hopeful it's not going to happen again but if it does we will have to rearrange units and we also have AMR that can come in and cover as a contingency plan," said Enright.

The city can pay AMR to respond to emergencies if needed.

Kuakini Medical Center is not affiliated with the paramedics. That just happens to be where the unit is stationed.

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