Honolulu battling bed bug problems in ambulances!UPDATED 6:55 PM HST Apr 05, 2014Video Transcript
more city ambulances are becoming infected with bed bugs! Good evening, I'm Yunji de Nies.. Kenny Choi has tonight off. As bed bugs make a resurgence throughout the country, Honolulu has been forced to spend more money to disinfect ambulances. KITV4's Andrew Pereira has tonights top story. Andrew? Yunji, in a few more weeks the Department of Emergency Services begins a new policy to try and keep bed bugs at bay. JOJO ABUAN: "YOU KNOW THEY CLOSE PRETTY TIGHTLY, BUT YOU NEVER KNOW, IF THEY WANT TO GET IN THERE THEY'LL GET IN THERE." After nearly six years as a paramedic, Jojo Abuan is keenly aware of all the nooks and crannies in his ambulance where bed bugs can hitch a ride. JOJO ABUAN: "ONE JUST HAPPENED ACTUALLY MY LAST SHIFT WHEN THE PERSON DIDN'T EVEN REALIZE THAT HE HAD BED BUGS." In the current fiscal year, the Department of Emergency Medical Services is spending $17,000 to decontaminate ambulances where bed bugs were found. Next fiscal year, the cost will increase to over $25,000. SHAYNE ENRIGHT: "IT IS GOING TO GO INTO GOOD USE AND IT'S GOING TO KEEP AMBULANCES IN SERVICE, WHICH WILL LEAD TO LIVES SAVED." Of course an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And that's why every ambulance crew carries bed bug fighting tools. There's a bed bug killing spray, a plastic bag to place around patients, and something known as a Tyvek suit, which can be worn by a patient or the paramedic. JOJO ABUAN: "HOOD, THE ARMS. YOU KNOW IT'S ZIPPED; GOT THE LITTLE BOOTIES AS WELL." ANDREW PEREIRA: "ALL OF THOSE PRECAUTIONS NOT ONLY HELP KEEP BED BUGS OUT OF AMBULANCES, THEY ALSO HELP ENSURE THE CRITTERS DON'T GET INSIDE EMERGENCY ROOMS." SHAYNE ENRIGHT: "WE'RE NEVER GOING TO NOT TRANSPORT A PATIENT THAT HAS BED BUGS. WE'RE ALWAYS GOING TO DO WHAT WE CAN THOUGH TO MITIGATE THE SITUATION." Paramedics are also trained on tell-tale signs that bed bugs may be present. JOJO ABUAN: "YOU CAN SEE SOME OF THEIR FECES, SOME BROWN STAINING ON THEIR MATTRESS, ON CLOTHING. YOU CAN SEE THEM, IF YOU LOOK IN THE RIGHT PLACES, FOR EXAMPLE PLACES THAT ARE DARK AND THEY KIND OF LIKE THAT AREA." Once infested with bed bugs, an ambulance can be out of service for up to three hours. SHAYNE ENRIGHT: "AND THAT'S TAKING ONE OF OUR 20 AMBULANCES OUT OF THE COMMUNITY. SOMEBODY NEARBY COULD BE HAVING A HEART ATTACK AND THAT DOES JEOPARDIZE THEIR CARE." By the end of the month, paramedics will begin handing out pamphlets to patients known to have a bed bug infestation. EMS also wants people to know there's no shame in bed bugs, and getting that information to paramedics will help keep ambulances on the road. SHAYNE ENRIGHT: "THAT WILL LESSEN THE AMOUNT OF TIME THAT THE AMBULANCE WILL HAVE TO GO OUT OF SERVICE. THAT'S WHY IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT THE PATIENTS DO INFORM US RIGHT AWAY." EMS keeps a permanent data base of homes, apartments and businesses known to have bed bugs. That way, paramedics know they need to take precautions. Although exact numbers are difficult to come by, EMS says it encountered several hundred patients last year with bed bugs.