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Kokua Line

Absentee ballots being mailed and are due by 6 p.m. Sept. 18

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Question: When will we receive our absentee ballots? We haven’t received them yet and are concerned.

Answer: The bulk of primary election absentee ballots for the City and County of Honolulu were put in the mail Friday, Monday and Tuesday, with a small batch going out yesterday.

Whether absentee voters have received their ballots by now primarily depends on where they live, said Glen Takahashi, the city elections administrator.

Windward Oahu, North Shore and Leeward Oahu residents probably have received their ballots, he said. "The tail end (of the mailings) is working its way into town, all the way towards Hawaii Kai."

There still are "a couple thousand" more requests for primary election ballots that have to be processed, but at least 71,000 have been mailed, Takahashi said yesterday.

So far, about 73,000 absentee ballots have been requested on Oahu, which matches the total number requested in 2008 with more than two weeks to go until the primary election.

Meanwhile, voters be aware: "We have to be in receipt of their voted ballot by Sept. 18, election day," Takahashi said. "Possession is what it’s about. We have to have it in hand by 6 p.m. election day."

Just having the ballot envelope postmarked by that day is "not acceptable," he warned. "If they’re going to mail it, they’ve got to mail it a few days early" to make sure it arrives on time.

Question: I read the article about the 77-year-old man who was pushing his mo-ped in a crosswalk, when he was hit by a car and later died. The accident happened in Ewa Beach, but he was taken by ambulance to the Queen’s Medical Center. When a person is hurt or 911 is called, what determines which hospital the person is taken to? I thought it would be the closest hospital. Why wasn’t that man taken to Hawaii Medical Center West (in Ewa Beach), Pali Momi or even Wahiawa?

Answer: It depends on the condition of the patient and the type of injury or trauma involved.

"In this particular case, when there’s a major trauma, the patient would be taken to the most appropriate facility to manage the trauma and that is Queen’s," said Patricia Dukes, chief of the city Emergency Medical Services Division.

The Queen’s Medical Center is designated the main trauma center for Hawaii and the Pacific region.

That’s not to say that Hawaii Medical Center West or other hospitals aren’t good hospitals, Dukes said. It’s that "they have a trauma team at Queen’s that’s specially trained to manage these sorts of cases in a very timely fashion."

Some hospitals have capabilities that others do not, Dukes added. For example, if someone is severely burned, they would be taken to Straub, which specializes in burn care.

"For the most part, we would be taking the patient to the closest appropriate facility, based upon the paramedics’ clinical impression of what’s wrong with the patient," Dukes said.

She said paramedics are trained to recognize if someone is in dire need of a trauma center, based on how they were injured, how badly they are injured and what part of their bodies are injured.

Question: I thought I read a while back that cell phones were becoming public nuisance so they may be restricted to certain areas, like cigarette smoking. Do you know anything about this?

Answer: So far, there are no state or county laws restricting cell phone use except while driving.

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail


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