Hawaii lawmakers will consider legislation that would fund putting two more ambulances into service on the Big Island.
The measure would seek $100,000 in the 2019-20 fiscal year and another $100,000 in the next fiscal year to fund the ambulances, equipment and personnel costs, West Hawaii Today reported Wednesday.
The ambulances would be stationed in Puna and the Makalei area.
State and emergency officials have identified Puna as a priority for an ambulance, but the need is great in Makalei as well, Democratic state Sen. Dru Kanuha said.
“With the vast distances between Makalei and Kailua, having an ambulance at Makalei would better serve that entire area,” Kanuha said.
The Makalei Fire Station, which opened in late 2012, does not have an ambulance. The closest ambulance-equipped station is eight miles (13 kilometers) away in Kailua-Kona.
The Big Island has not added a new ambulance to its fleet of 15 in more than a decade despite the island’s growth. Its population has increased by about 33,000 people since 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers.
The mandated ambulance response time in Puna and the surrounding areas is 20 minutes or less.
The response time exceeded that threshold between 16 percent and 39 percent of the time from 2010 to 2016, according to the state Department of Health.
Ambulances have exceeded the Makalei area’s 15-minute response time about 10 percent of the time.