Rural Maui region seeks own ambulance service
WAILUKU » Michael Gagne remembers how ambulances did not get to rural Haiku in time to help two children in separate drownings.
"They were dead by the time the ambulance arrived," said Gagne, board president of the Haiku Community Association. "We've had too many dead on arrivals."
The lack of an ambulance station is becoming a major worry in a district that stretches about nine coastal miles and where the population has grown by more than 45 percent in the last 15 years.
State legislators are considering House Bill 2888, HD 1, which includes funding for an ambulance station in Haiku. The bill has been referred to the House Finance Committee.
An estimated 8,377 residents live in the Haiku region, an area of nearly 60 square miles and many unpaved roads. The nearest fire station is in Paia town, about five miles west from the beginning of Haiku.
Gagne said a lot of the residents are getting older and have difficulty driving to receive emergency care.
He said he once shattered his arm in an accident, but luckily someone was able to drive him quickly to the hospital. "Without somebody being there, I would have been in trouble," he said.
Gagne said Haiku has been growing because rural land is affordable for people who want a home.
Haiku resident Gregg Blue said he lives close to the border of Haiku and Makawao, and the closest ambulance to his home is in Makawao, about 15 minutes away.
Blue said if the ambulance in Makawao is busy, the person in Haiku has to wait anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes for its arrival from Kahului.
The bill also includes a request for a second ambulance station in rural Molokai.
Scotty Schaefer, a Molokai emergency medical service provider, said he often has to respond to an emergency on Molokai on his day off, while other personnel are at the scene of a different critical emergency.
Schaefer said he then has to find someone willing to watch his children. "We've had to be creative in responding to our community's needs," he said.