Honolulu EMS asks lawmakers for help, citing a need for more ambulances
A bill was previously introduced asking for more ambulances on Kaua'i and the Big Island but not O'ahu.
The Emergency Medical Services on Oahu only has 18 full-time and two part time ambulances serving a million residents on the island, plus about 10 million visitors each year.
"Brothers and sisters, if you really want to help us out, give us what we need bro cuz you know one of your family members might be one of the guys who needs them," Peter Kealoha said.
Kealoha was one of many people at the State Capitol Friday, urging lawmakers to supply O'ahu EMS with more fully staffed ambulances. He owes his life to paramedics for rushing him to the hospital the night he went into cardiac arrest.
"We need more of these guys because if they weren't there, I'd be dead," Kealoha said.
A bill was previously introduced asking for more ambulances on Kaua'i and the Big Island but not O'ahu. EMS said today, that bill needs to be amended.
"I've been in EMS since 2004 and I've seen the island's 911 call volume grow exponentially since then. It will not decline but only continue to grow, this is a fact. Our island needs more EMS units," Marie Hathaway Yoshikawa, Honolulu EMS said.
State Representative Sylvia Luke says Oahu wasn't on the bill because they weren't aware it was a priority.
"We were told that we couldn't do Oahu until we took care of Kauai and Puna so that's kind of disturbing that we're getting conflicting information so it's good that we have this public testimony to kind of sort it out," Luke said.
But until more information is gathered - no vote - it's been deferred.
A fully staffed ambulance costs about $1.5 million per year and Representative Gene Ward says it's important to consider Hawaii's rising homeless problem as well.
"Some people suspect that as the ambulances are being used as the taxi for the homeless, I want to quantify how much of the emergency response is being utilized by the homeless," Ward said.
EMS says homeless people make-up about 10 percent of all their calls. Last year, one homeless person was transported 194 times.