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Kokua Line

Situation determines where ambulance will bring patient

    This 1965 photo shows where the initial segment of the H-1 freeway ended at the intersection of Kapahulu and Harding avenues in Kaimuki. Temporary ramps can be seen leading from Harding, left, and Kapahulu. This photo was taken facing toward Diamond Head.

Question: Recently, you had a column about ambulances taking you to the Queen’s Medical Center if you have a traumatic injury. My wife does not want to be taken to the hospital emergency room a couple miles from our house if she becomes ill. She wants to be taken to Queen’s, about 10 miles away. I’m concerned about this primarily because of the extra time involved. Also, I wonder if there is extra cost involved if the trip is longer. When an ambulance comes to your home, do they have to take you where you want to go or is it their call?

Answer: It really depends on the situation.

"Primarily, the closest appropriate facility is the destination," said Patricia Dukes, chief of the city Emergency Medical Services Division.

However, there may be extenuating circumstances that make that unfeasible, she said, such as when the closest hospital is unable to accommodate the patient or the patient’s condition warrants specialized services and the closest hospital’s physician reroutes the ambulance.

Basically, the determining factors are how ill the patient is; whether bypassing other capable facilities is justified; and where the patient is being transported from.

If the patient is within metropolitan Honolulu, the patient’s hospital of choice may be considered, depending on the condition of the patient, Dukes said.

As for cost, she said the basic fee is the same no matter where the ambulance goes. But, the charge is $10 per mile, said Linda Rosen, chief of the state Department of Health’s Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention Systems Branch, which is responsible for all 911 ambulance services.

Question: Was there an H-1 freeway offramp, Ewa-bound, before the Kapiolani Boulevard exit, merging into Harding Avenue, somewhere near 1st and Harding avenues? I recall an exit there when I used to walk to Kuhio School in the ’60s.

Answer: Thanks to the state Department of Transportation for providing a photo and doing some research to prove your memory to be correct.

There was a temporary westbound (Ewa-bound) offramp at Harding Avenue at what was then the western terminus of the H-1 freeway, said DOT spokeswoman Tammy Mori.

Work was completed on the first segment of the new H-1 Interstate, spanning 1 mile from Koko Head Avenue to 1st Avenue, on June 21, 1965.

A temporary westbound exit to Harding and a temporary eastbound entrance from Kapahulu Avenue allowed motorists to access the new freeway until the Kapiolani Interchange was completed in October 1967.

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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