HONOLULU (KHON2) — Officials warn about the dangers of driving under the influence of a substance every year, but that message is more important than ever in 2021 as hospitals continue struggling with capacity levels.
The Honolulu Emergency Medical Services (EMS) ambulances continue responding to unprecedented level of calls for service.
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“There’s times when there are more calls than there are ambulances,” Honolulu Emergency Services Department director Dr. James Ireland said. “We’ve had times when there’s 30 calls and only 21 ambulances, and so sometimes people have to wait and we never want people to wait for an ambulance or EMS.”
Ireland said calls are non-stop for COVID patients, along with injured hikers or oceangoers who need rescuing.
Those calls lead to more patients at hospitals during a time when many facilities are already stretched thin.
Ireland said, “They may not get a bed upstairs they may have to wait there may be longer wait times and that’s unfortunate, that’s why we want everybody to be safe.”
One way to avoid getting hurt is by simply staying off the road after drinking.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation’s (DOT) deputy director of highways, Ed Sniffen, said drugs and alcohol were factors in nearly half of the 60 deadly crashes so far in 2021.
“We should be talking about those fatalities as people, we know 60 people that are dead because of decisions that we made on the freeway everyday,” Sniffen said. “We are asking everybody to make good decisions as they go out. First and foremost do not drink and drive.”
The State’s DOT, police departments from all counties and the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are holding a “No Excuses” campaign during the Labor Day weekend. They said the message is simple, people do not have an excuse for driving intoxicated.
Theresa Paulette knows the pain of losing a loved one over someone else’s bad decisions too well. Her son, Brian, was only 15 years old when a drunk driver struck him while he was out riding his scooter in Kaneohe.
Thursday, Sept. 2, marked 29 years since his death.
“You never stop forgetting or loving that person that was in your life, and yes 44(years old), so I don’t know what kind of man he might of become, his whole future was taken from him,” Paulette said. “It’s a grief that never goes away, there is a permanent hole in your heart when you lose a loved one in such a preventable way.”
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Police officers will be patrolling the streets across the state and holding unannounced DUI checkpoints. Honolulu police in 2021 had made 1,662 arrests in connection to intoxicated drivers as of the end of July.