Maui air ambulance
set to begin July 1

Gov. Lingle releases funds for the service
that will also benefit Lanai and Molokai

WAILEA, Maui >> Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday she will release $612,000 for emergency helicopter air ambulance service in Maui County serving the Valley Isle, Lanai and Molokai.

But she added that the state Legislature will have to pass a bill this session that would not require emergency air service statewide.

Lingle said her administration feels a bill passed last year required emergency helicopter services statewide and would put the state in a position of being liable to lawsuits if similar services were not provided in places such as the Big Island.

The Maui emergency air ambulance would begin operation July 1.

In making the announcement, Lingle received a standing ovation from about 260 people at the second annual Maui Chamber of Commerce Governor's Luncheon at the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea.

Lingle said she vetoed the bill last year, after citing her worries about potential lawsuits and a plan that "wasn't well thought out."

A Maui delegation, including county Mayor Alan Arakawa, met with Lingle on Oct. 13 to p ersuade her to release the funds.

Lingle said she was unaware that the emergency helicopter service was Arakawa's top priority, and credited the mayor with having a positive approach in discussions.

"Sometimes in the middle of a veto session, you're feeling like everyone is just really coming at you, and his approach was the approach that really gets things done," she said.

Lingle said the county plans to spend $100,000 in planning and has committed $612,000 in matching funds for the emergency air service.

She said the helicopter will be at Kahului Airport, with paramedics in Kula.

State Sen. Rosalyn Baker, one of the authors of last year's legislative bill, said she does not think the act authorizing the funding requires emergency helicopter service statewide.

"I don't understand the rationale for putting any caveats on this bill, but in the spirit of cooperation, we'll take a look at this bill," Baker said. "Politics aside, it's really important for Maui County."

Baker (D, Honokohau-Makena) said Hawaii County has emergency air ambulance service and at least two hospitals capable of treating emergency patients; Kauai County has two hospitals; and Oahu has an arrangement with the military for emergency air ambulance services.

She said Maui County has one hospital in Wailuku capable of treating emergency patients.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --