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Hawaii News

State activates medical disaster response team

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Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management Director Chris Crabtree showed the supplies the nonprofit had on hand Thursday at its headquarters in Halawa Valley.

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Stuffed dogs and body boards, which are used to carry the dead, are kept at the Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management headquarters in Halawa Valley. The dogs are used for emergency responder training because many pet owners will carry their animals while being rescued.

State emergency officials have activated a disaster medical response team in anticipation of severe weather throughout the islands.

Chris Crabtree, director of the Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management coalition, which is made up of 170 medical facilities statewide, said 40 medical providers are on standby and that another team of up to 20 people is available to provide online help. The group leverages medical personnel, equipment and supplies, and coordinates services during major emergencies or disasters.

The move comes as health care providers announced closures Thursday of outpatient clinics, dialysis centers and laboratory serv­ices, and canceled elective surgeries at least through today.

The Queen’s Medical Centers canceled elective surgeries and closed outpatient diagnostic centers, clinics and physician office buildings at both its Punchbowl and West Oahu campuses.

“Queen’s will continue to monitor Hurricane Lane and reschedule procedures and surgeries after the hurricane has safely passed our islands,” the company said, adding that the Queen’s Transplant Center would continue time-sensitive, lifesaving transplants as long as weather allows. “All emergency and trauma services will remain open and available.”

Hawaii Pacific Health also suspended certain services, including outpatient clinics, imaging and elective procedures starting at noon Thursday at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women &Children, Pali Momi Medical Center and Straub Medical Center.

“Emergency preparedness, including the safety of patients, residents and staff, is a priority,” the Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management coalition said.

The coalition is on standby with a 150-bed mobile hospital that can be set up as a free-standing facility with tents, more than 1,000 cots and medical supplies for patients needing medical care in a mass disaster. Fifty beds are housed in a Halawa warehouse, and additional beds are positioned on the neighbor islands.

“We have enough supplies to be able in a catastrophic event to extend for three days,” Crabtree said. “We may say three days, but we may extend beyond that by rationing resources.”

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