Honolulu Paramedics Looking to Recruit

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Everytime there is an emergency, you count on these first responders to be there.

But Honolulu's paramedics are seeing a significant rise in the number of 911 calls.

So, how are they keeping up with the demand?

At sound ambulance driving sirens everyday, paramedics save lives.

Getting to their destination in time, isn't the only challenge they face.

"From maybe about 49,000 calls a year in 1994, we have come up to almost 70,000 calls in 2007," Sue Archer.

Archer, a paramedic for 22 years says, the increase in 911 calls is a big problem, because the number of EMS employees has not gone up.

And many are expected to retire soon.

"Immediately we could use and I am not saying in the near future, I am saying immediately maybe 40, 40 more positions."

Right now, there are about 178 EMT's and paramedics serving Oahu.

We've been riding along with the paramedics today to see just how busy they are. So far, they've been receiving back to back calls. On average, they receive 250 to 300 calls a day.

To meet the demand, many work over-time.

"It's exhausting, it is very exhausting."

"We welcome the calls that they call, and we welcome the opportunities to help, but again we need more help, we need help," said Don Takara.

Takara, a 15-year veteran says they've gotten help in the form of new ambulances last year but...

"That's like putting a big band aid on a big problem."

"We've gotten new vehicles, we opened a new unit, we got a new EMS training academy," said EMS spokesman Bryan Cheplic. "Is there room for improvement? Of course. And we're headed down that road."

Starting with the first EMS training academy in Honolulu to open in July.

"We looking at about 20, 25 recruit trainees and hopefully we can graduate all of them so they can join the city," Takara said.

While these paramedics realize a solution will not happen over night, there is a way you can help.

"If somebody just says and we get to the hospital 'thank you very much', you don't know, you made the paramedic's day."

In the event all of EMS' resources are depleted, the City and County of Honolulu has a contract with a private company called American Medical Response.

If needed, it will step in and provide services.