Honolulu EMS ‘stretched thin’ as low morale, staff shortages takes major toll

“EMS is really stretched thin."
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 7:59 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2022 at 8:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A shortage of emergency workers has been taking ambulances of Oahu’s streets and paramedics are among those complaining.

On Tuesday the Honolulu Emergency Services Director Dr. Jim Ireland, acknowledged morale is an issue within the department.

He said he wants his staff to know that they are heard, and he is taking steps to improve the situation.

“We had the perfect storm,” said Ireland. “People on vacation. Sick call outs.”

On Sunday, officials said 14 out of 22 ambulances were unstaffed over two 12 hour shifts.

“EMS is really stretched thin. They are working super hard and they are responding,” Ireland said.

“Everyone is human beings and there is a limit to what you can do.”

Meanwhile, there have been several complaints sent in to Hawaii News Now from people who claim they work in the department.

One paramedic who wanted to remain anonymous said, “This is the very worst I’ve seen.”

Another anonymous paramedic said the department is “losing people just as fast as they are hiring them.”

When asked about staff within his department emailing news outlets about the situation, Dr. Ireland said it makes him sad.

“I think this is national issue,” Ireland said. “You can see across the country, agencies are struggling to keep moral up and staffing up.”

“And I think it’s a problem with call volume. More people are needing EMS.”

Ireland added EMS has made progress with hiring. They recently hired 17 Emergency Medical Technicians with six more going through the onboarding process.

He added that he’s taking necessary steps to boost morale within the department.