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StarBulletin.com

Handi-Van and ambulance motors disturb


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POSTED: Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Question: Do Handi-Vans and ambulances need to keep their engines running while they are loading/unloading a passenger or waiting on scene? We have a Handi-Van that regularly makes a pickup outside our bedroom window most mornings between 4 and 5 a.m., all the while with the engine running loudly. One morning an ambulance and firetruck responded to an emergency around 3 a.m. The firetruck shut off its motor, but the ambulance kept running — loudly — for about 15 minutes, unattended. What are the policies?

Answer: The policies differ.

Ambulances are kept running for two reasons, explained Donnie Gates, acting chief of the city Emergency Medical Services Division.

One is because the city ambulances have turbo-charged engines that need to idle after a “;hard response.”;

“;Failure to allow the turbo to shut down will result in damage to the vehicle,”; Gates said.

Second, in order for the EMS crew to work with patients in the rear of the ambulance, lighting is necessary, he said. Running the engine provides for ample lighting and charges the battery system.

Having said all that, Gates did acknowledge 15 minutes “;is somewhat long.”;

“;We do ask that our crews turn off the engine as soon as possible to cut down on unnecessary noise and fuel fumes,”; not to mention not wasting fuel, he said.

TheHandi-Van, meanwhile, is operated by Oahu Transit Services Inc. on behalf of the city Department of Transportation Services.

Oahu Transit Services instructs its operators to turn off the engines once they arrive at a destination, said James Burke, chief of the Public Transit Division.

The exception is when a wheelchair lift is deployed, because the lift cannot operate unless the engine is running, he said.

However, Oahu Transit Services' policy, as well as state regulations, require the van operator to turn off the engine within three minutes if the customer is not ready to board the van.

The van operator will be reminded of the policy, said TheHandi-Van operator.

Complaints can be made to TheHandi-Van Customer Service department between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays, except holidays. Call 456-5555 and press 3 at the prompt. You can also file a complaint online at http://www.thebus.org or send a letter to Oahu Transit Services Inc., 811 Middle St., Honolulu 96819-2316, attn: TheHandi-Van Customer Service.

Q: Is there an organization or school that needs prom dresses? We have three we can donate.

A: The Domestic Violence Action Center recently hosted a sale of slightly used prom dresses, with proceeds benefiting the nonprofit agency.

It no longer is collecting the dresses, but Tuxedos by Hale Niu is accepting used prom dresses on behalf of the center.

Dresses can be dropped off 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays at the store, located at 4210 Waialae Ave. All proceeds will be given to the center.

The donated dresses typically will sell for $30 to $60. You are asked to have the dresses cleaned and in salable condition.

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Write to “;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).