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Thread: Medevac Service in Limbo

  1. #1

    Default Medevac Service in Limbo

    Besides the fact that many of you have ohana or know of people serving nobly in Iraq, now, with the suspension of Medevac services that have been provided at no cost to the State or County, your life could be threatened if you are ever in an accident.

    The US Army announced last week that it was suspending emergency airlifts because the Black Hawk helicopters that were used to provide that service are needed in Iraq for at least one year. It's going to cost the City and County of Honolulu somewhere on the order of $600,000 to provide the service, and because of the sudden announcement, even if a contractor can be found, there may be a gap in the time before it can start being used.

    "...A bill to fund emergency medical helicopter flights on O'ahu has been introduced in the Legislature, but government officials acknowledged yesterday that there may not be enough time to implement a plan that would avert an interruption in medevac service.

    Rep. Michael Magaoay, D-46th (Kahuku, North Shore), introduced the measure Monday and said it would direct the state Department of Health to find an alternative to the Army Black Hawk helicopters that currently provide the service. The measure would appropriate $600,000 to the department.

    The Army last week announced it will suspend the Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic service on April 1 because flight crews are needed to train for war duty. They deploy to Iraq this summer.

    From 1974 to late 2004, the Army flew about 7,000 patients from rural O'ahu to town hospitals for emergency treatment...."

    Miulang

  2. #2

    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    Unless the City or the State can come up with millions of dollars to sign a contract for medevac services by September, I would hate to be critically injured in an accident anywhere outside of downtown Honolulu proper. For the last 30 years, the airlift service has been provided for free by the military, but thanks to the need to have the equipment and crews shipped to Iraq, the only way seriously injured people can be safely transported from the outlying areas to the tertiary care hospitals is via ambulance, and those of you who endure murderous commutes on the interstate know that traffic sometimes slows to a crawl.

    It took a disaster (the crashing of a Hawai'i Air Ambulance plane at Kahului) to shake the system up so that now there seems to be adequate emergency air services from the Neighbor Islands to Honolulu hospitals. I pray that some seriously injured people don't have to die on Oahu so you have adequate services to airlift critically injured patients from outlying areas into Honolulu.

    Miulang
    Last edited by Miulang; June 29th, 2006 at 12:47 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    Perhaps there are National Guard units, who are technically under the command of the Governor available? I don't know if our National Guard assets are already deployed overseas or part of the contingent that will be undergoing training for a future deployment. Seems ashamed that the National Guard would not be available to provide life saving services to the folks at home.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    Quote Originally Posted by Samurai123
    Perhaps there are National Guard units, who are technically under the command of the Governor available? I don't know if our National Guard assets are already deployed overseas or part of the contingent that will be undergoing training for a future deployment. Seems ashamed that the National Guard would not be available to provide life saving services to the folks at home.
    If you read the link in Miulang's earlier post today, you'll find that it's the National Guard that has been doing it and is going to stop:
    "Although the Hawai'i Army National Guard has extended a temporary deal to provide seven helicopters until September, no permanent solution has been found. The National Guard flights originally were to end Saturday."
    .
    .

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    This issue is rearing its ugly head again: After the Honolulu-based National Guard helicopters were sent to Iraq this summer, the State managed to enter into an agreement with the Big Island National Guard to use its helicopters for medevac services on Honolulu on an interim basis. Now that Company's helicopters will probably be shipped over to Iraq, too, which means medevac services on Oahu are in jeopardy again, as of Dec. 31.

    The really bad news is the Army and Marines want the White House in increase the number of Reservists (and their equipment) to be called up, too. This situation is potentially lethal to anyone who is injured on the freeways or on the North Shore.

    Even though the State is hopeful that it can find a military solution to this, as long as our involvement in the war in Iraq continues, my guess is that this option of free medevac services to Honolulu will be a thing of the past.
    Last edited by Miulang; December 13th, 2006 at 03:38 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    Well, it's apparent that the State and County will probably have to come up with about $3 million annually from somewhere to pay for a civilian medevac service beginning next year.

    Free transportation for critically ill patients on Oahu is definitely going away by sometime next summer because all the helicopters used for the service have to be sent to Iraq. Since Sept., a contingent of Hilo National Guardsmen have been stationed in Honolulu to provide the service, but they are being called to serve in Iraq. Temporarily, some National Guard helicopters from Alaska will provide medevac services, but they, too, will then have to be deployed to Iraq.

    "The bottom line is, we've got to come up with a solution here for both the active duty (Army), the National Guard, the Marines and the state of Hawai'i for the long term," Brandenburg said.

    To illustrate the pace of deployments and demand for military medevac choppers, Brandenburg said that when Schofield's 68th Medical Company returns from Iraq next summer, that Black Hawk unit will soon start to train for another expected war deployment either in less than or about a year's time.

    "So when they get back, their availability to pick up where we were, say, three years ago (with the civilian medevac mission), is just not going to be there," Brandenburg said. "I think things have just changed," he added, in reference to the wartime demand for helicopters.

    State Adjutant Maj. Gen. Robert G.F. Lee, who heads the Hawai'i National Guard, spoke about a series of upcoming citizen soldier deployments including that of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation, the unit that has performed the civilian medevac mission on O'ahu since April 1.

    The Hilo-based Black Hawk unit, one of the last remaining in the National Guard to not see war duty, is expected to be mobilized in the spring and deploy to Iraq in the summer.
    Since the replacement civilian helicopters will be used by the military for training purposes as well as for civilian medevac missions, I wonder what percentage of the cost of hiring a civilian services would have to be paid for by the State and County?

    Miulang

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    They are bringing in some Alaska National Guard Units in to replace the Hawaii National Guard Units that will be deployed in 11 months.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    Quote Originally Posted by manoasurfer123 View Post
    They are bringing in some Alaska National Guard Units in to replace the Hawaii National Guard Units that will be deployed in 11 months.
    Yes, but those guys will also be headed to Iraq by the summer. And it's not so much about the manpower as it is about the equipment. They are wearing out the equipment faster than expected and there's about a $17 billion backlog on getting equipment repaired. Guard units don't have enough equipment to be trained properly because all their equipment (technically the property of the DoD) is being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Miulang

  9. #9

    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    I just hope that the proposed civilian chopper replacement pilots are as skilled as the Coast Guard and military pilots.

    One false move and the chopper plummets to the "inner tube" of the Queen Emma Tower at Queens.

    We've been told that, should that scenario occur, anyone in the surrounding area is a goner. The ICU's will be shot to hell, thanks to the courtyard thingy on the fourth floor which will serve as the impromptu landing pad for the errant chopper.

    It has something to do with the titanium in the choppers. Highly explosive/flammable/inferno-inducing.

    Or so we were told by the head of security, who just loves to scare nurses.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    Just like most fixed-wing commercial pilots, the odds are pretty good that any civilian medevac helicopter pilot would be a veteran.

    Titanium is not a particularly dangerous material, but a helicopter crashing in the immediate area would not be a good thing no matter what the aircraft is constructed of...

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    I think someone is confusing Titanium with Magnesium. But like poinographer said having a helicopter crash is not a good thing, no mater what is made of or what it is carrying.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    Quote Originally Posted by WindwardOahuRN View Post
    It has something to do with the titanium in the choppers. Highly explosive/flammable/inferno-inducing.
    That's only true when titanium is in powder form or metal shavings and exposed to highly heated air.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Medevac Service in Limbo

    Wonder if we can get the Coast Guard to use their HH-65 Dolphin helicopters for medivacs?

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