First responders hurt in ambulance accident at Ala Moana

Published: Jul. 12, 2014 at 9:40 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 13, 2014 at 12:15 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An ambulance crash at Ala Moana Center involved overworked paramedics on overtime. Two paramedics and a firefighter were hurt in the accident. Hawaii News Now has learned that one of the paramedics suffered a serious leg injury. The other had injured ribs.

First responders helping a patient with a medical emergency wound up in the hospital after the crash. Authorities said a 50-year-old worker at the construction site near Nordstrom was in critical condition around 9:45 a.m. on Saturday. The patient was loaded on the third-level and sources said a police officer in his vehicle was leading the rig out of the mall. The ambulance crashed on the way down the Atkinson ramp. The driver, a veteran paramedic, was seriously hurt, according to a spokesperson for the city's Emergency Medical Services division. The other paramedic and a firefighter who was assisting them in the rig suffered minor injuries.

Sources said the patient was in cardiac arrest, but the ambulance crew had stabilized him. Hawaii News Now learned that he went back into cardiac arrest and later died.

The crash comes as a deal between the city and the medics' union to ease a staffing shortage and reduce mandatory overtime has stalled. The two paramedics on duty were in the middle of a second eight-hour shift, according to sources. The rig is based at Kuakini Medical Center and is one of the busiest city ambulances on the island.

The city wants to reduce chronic vacancies which lead to back-to-back shifts by changing the length of the shift from eight to 12 hours. The move would mean the city's 22 ambulances could be run with one-third less staff each day, allowing other medics to have much-needed time off, but sources said the United Public Workers union is holding up the negotiations.

One of the first responders has been a paramedic for more than 30 years. The other has worked for 11 years.

An EMS spokesperson declined to comment on the overtime issue and the negotiations.

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