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Too many call in sick; Hawaii shuts down ambulance units

The unexpected staff shortage caused the temporary suspension of four of the 22 units on the island of Oahu.

HONOLULU - The Honolulu Emergency Medical Services Division temporarily shut down four units over the weekend after too many employees called in sick.

Kohn2.com reported that the staff shortage resulted in the Waianae and Pawaa units being closed overnight from 11 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday. The Makiki and Waipio units were also closed from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

The four units were strategically closed, and patient care was not jeopardized, the agency told Kohn2. Surrounding units, including American Medical response, helped cover the area.

While there’s no personnel shortage, there is a high turnover rate, the agency said. It employs about 200 EMTs and paramedics and receives more than 66,000 calls annually.

The agency plans to meet to make sure this never happens again, and issued the following statement:

“EMS says employees continue to provide excellent patient care despite the mandatory overtime which has contributed to the staffing shortage. EMS continues to work on solutions to relieve shortages.”

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