HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii’s healthcare systems are preparing for an anticipated influx of emergency calls during the holidays. Although COVID cases are down, the state is reopening tourism beginning Nov. 1.
It is not just online shopping being impacted by global shipping delays. Honolulu Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is also waiting for some heavy-duty and much-needed equipment to arrive.
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“We were just notified today that brand new ambulances we have ordered may be delayed, and we’re not sure how long they may be delayed,” said Dr. James Ireland, Honolulu Emergency Services Department director. “We’ve ordered 10 new ambulances to serve in the next year or two to replace aging fleet and that could become a problem if those shipments are delayed beyond what we expect them to be.”
While COVID cases decline, EMS continues to be busier than ever.
“The average for us for 911 calls, for medical assistance and trauma cases is about 267 a day. Pre-pandemic that was running in the 150s,” Dr. Ireland explained.
The Honolulu Fire Department and Ocean Safety have already responded to an unprecedented number of rescues. With more visitors expected for the holidays, EMS is anticipating more calls to areas like Waikiki and Koolina.
“We may have to put on an additional ambulance or put on some more unit hours to cover that. Just this past July we added an extra ambulance for coverage in the Ewa Beach area at night, as well as one in the Downtown area,” said Dr. Ireland.
Meanwhile, there are still over 400 FEMA nurses at hospitals across the state.
“By Oct. 30, which is coming up just 10 days from now, we’ll be down to about 322, and on Nov. 6, we’ll be down to 279,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii CEO.
The Healthcare Association of Hawaii said if the coronavirus positivity rate or hospitalizations spike again, they are prepared.
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“We know what we have to do, we can go out and potentially ask for additional funding again and bring in additional staff. The contract we have with this mainland vendor is still in place and, actually, we renewed it in the middle of September, and it’s in place for another year. However, we don’t anticipate that it will be necessary given the very high rate of vaccination that we are experiencing in the state of Hawaii,” Raethel said.