HALAWA, Hawaii (KHON2) — The Emergency Medical Services Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) vehicle looks like the mother of all ambulances.
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It was deployed on Tuesday, Nov. 3 to monitor the air around Mililani-Mauka, but KHON2 learned it can not speak to air quality.
EMS said the CBRNE does have ambulance-like capabilities and can provide initial treatment, but it is not a transport vehicle.
“If we think it’s going to be a long-term or is some type of hazardous chemical or whatever, we’ll go there and stand by so we can be the medical standby for our other partners,” said EMS paramedic Lance Aimoto.
It has been deployed to large events like the Honolulu Marathon and Eddie Aikau Invitational to lighten the burden in case ambulances need to be called. The CBRNE can also provide surveillance with a camera that extends up to 20 feet.
“Like we could be a block or two away and if we wanted to see what was going on, somebody could actually operate this first and get situational awareness without even getting into the hazard area, I would say,” Aimoto said.
Paramedic supervisor Sunny Johnson said the CBRNE is equipped with a Lifepak 15, which was used for patients with breathing issues.
“Like when we used it for the wildland fires, right? We can monitor their oxygen levels as well as their carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide,” Johnson said.
There are also air detectors to track oxygen and carbon monoxide levels, gamma radiation, hydrogen sulfide and more — which is great for confined spaces like housefires, but wildfires are different.
“You would need actually air monitoring or air quality monitoring devices,” Aimoto said. “This machine can not measure particulates in the air.”
The Department of Health is conducting air quality testing in central Oahu, readings from Mililani Uka Elementary School showed moderate conditions on Friday, Nov. 3 but Kanoelani Elementary had unhealthy air quality levels.
Those sensors are completely separate from the CBRNE vehicle and the DOH said on Thursday, Nov. 2 that their sensors will be active as long as the fire is ongoing.
EMS said the CBRNE being used on Tuesday was more of a training day and said not to interrupt if it is seen parked in a residential neighborhood.
“Generally that means something is going on. So, let them do their job, right? But afterwards, you know, if you have inquiries or anything, we’d be more than happy to answer your questions,” Johnson said.
Click here to view ongoing air quality test results from around Mililani-Mauka.