Paramedics are stretched to the limit — and there's no help in sight

Oahu's paramedics are stretched to the limit – and there's no help in sight
Updated: Feb. 15, 2018 at 7:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu's plea for a new Emergency Medical Services station is on life support at the state Legislature.

Given present resources, managers of Oahu's paramedics and emergency medical technicians say they're already stretched to the limit – and they desperately need help in order to continue saving people's lives.

"We really need help. We are in a critical stage where one of these days, we're not going to be able to respond to all the calls that we get in a timely manner," said Honolulu EMS Chief Dean Nakano. "I hate to say it, but one of these days, somebody is going to have to wait for an ambulance and the outcome is not going to be good."

Nakano says there are only 20 ambulances on Oahu to serve nearly one million residents, plus around 10 million visitors annually. He says they simply can't keep up with the amount of calls.

"Our call volumes been going up steadily, at a average of 10,000 more calls each year, and we still have the same amount of ambulances," Nakano said.

EMS officials say the last new ambulance they received was in 2012. Sometimes, Nakano says, they are stretched so thin that an ambulance from Hawaii Kai will get called out to Nanakuli.

"At this point, we're not meeting our required response times, because like I said, we're stretched to the limit," he said.

With a deadline looming at the capitol, lawmakers don't seem ready to help.

Two separate bills will be heard at the capitol on Friday that would provide funding for new EMS stations on the Big Island and Kauai. Nakano says he is asking for those bills to be amended to include adding another station on Oahu as well.

HB1616 and HB1676 will be debated Friday at 4 p.m.

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