Maʻalaea Medical Response Unit Among Bills Advanced by House
By Wendy Osher
The state House advanced more than 150 bills on Tuesday, including one relating to emergency medical services on Maui.
Senate Bill 498, Senate Draft 2 House Draft 1, would appropriate funds out of the EMS Special Fund to establish a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week emergency medical response vehicle unit at Maʻalaea.
According to the language in the bill, the added unit is proposed to augment the county emergency medical services system for residents of west and south Maui.
The bill states that the population has significantly increased in both districts over the years, corresponding with an increase of approximately 1,000 calls per year for emergency medical services.
Lawmakers who drafted the legislation also say the added unit would substantially address the steady increase in calls for out-of-district response, which lawmakers say has increased 25% over the past four years.
It currently takes an estimated 45 minutes or more to reach the Maui Memorial Medical Center if the ambulance that responds to a call is coming from an out-of-district location. The bill further states:
“Currently, if the Lahaina and Napili ambulances are out on a call and another emergency call comes in for the west side of Maui, the Kihei station responds if available, potentially leaving the south side of Maui uncovered during that time. The removal of ambulances from their own districts creates a domino effect of missing emergency medical services to other areas.”
According to the bill, the last time a new emergency medical services ambulance units was added on Maui was in 2004.
Of the other bills that advanced, House lawmakers say the majority will go into conference committees where House and Senate conferees will negotiate differences in the measures.
Another item approved yesterday was a tobacco-related health bill that also would transfer the state’s medical marijuana program to the Department of Health from the Department of Public Safety.
House Speaker Joseph M. Souki of Maui said he looks forward to “meaningful discussions with our Senate counterparts that will lead to agreements on legislation important to our state and citizens.”
In a press release, Souki said, “With just about a month left in this legislative session, I believe that the state budget that we developed and the bills that we crafted have met the objectives that the House set for itself when the session began. We have engaged the community, developed sound public policies, and approached the state budget in a fiscally conservative manner.”