HONOLULU (KHON2) – Honolulu EMS said its aging fleet of ambulances has been out of service for months for repairs. And now is the time for them to have their own designated mechanics. They point out that the police and fire brigade already have it.
EMS has taken three of its ambulances out of service as a precaution after a An ambulance caught fire while transporting a patient to Kailua. While it has 47 ambulances to cover the 21 units across the island, around 10 to 20 ambulances are waiting for repairs each day at AES, the city’s repair facility. The city said it put ambulances at the top of the priority list.
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“If an ambulance arrives and needs to be repaired, if that repair can be done immediately, AES will immediately put that ambulance at the top of that list and we will repair that vehicle before it repairs any of the other cars in its logbook. orders,” said Ian Scheuring, a city spokesman.
But EMS said it could still take months to get ambulances back on the road. And that’s because AES has its hands full with every other vehicle in town that needs repairs.
“We get priority, but we’re among the other vehicles the city has to fix. And garbage trucks are also a priority, not in the same way as ambulances, you know, people need the garbage out,” said Dr James Ireland, director of the department of emergency services.
Ireland said having mechanics who specialize in repairing ambulances would significantly reduce repair times.
“We just want to maintain our fleet, maintain safety, maintain readiness. And the best way to do that with an acceptable cost is what we are looking at,” he said.
EMS said mechanics are needed not just for repairs, but also for constant maintenance because ambulances travel so many miles each day.
According to EMS, on average, each ambulance already has 200,000 miles.
Ireland pointed out that in the past the EMS budget was controlled by the state health department, so changes had to be approved by the state and funded by state legislators. That changed this year.
“Now that we are funded by the city, we collect and keep our own billing. It actually removes the barrier that we had before,” Ireland said.
He said the plan is to work with city officials and hopefully put it in the budget that will be approved by city council.
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“The quickest and cheapest way to do this would be to hire these people within our department or fund them through AES as dedicated EMS employees and use their facilities,” Ireland said.