The History of Emergency Medical Services

The Honolulu Emergency Medical Services history is built on the hardwork and dedication of its Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians.

A Timeline of Our History

1910

The Queen's Hospital begins private ambulance service

1916

The Honolulu Police Department (HPD) begins the city's first ambulance service.

Ambulance from 1916
HPD ambulance

1917

HPD hires full time ambulance attendants.

HPD transfers its ambulance service to the Health Department.

1931

24 hour/day ambulance service is established.

1950s

City and County crew member next to his Packard ambulance

City and County crew member next to his Packard ambulance

1960's

Basic life support and CPR classes begin for ambulance attendants.

Late 1960's Walter Nishimura
1960's Queens Medical Center
Queens ER
Private ambulance service at a disaster drill at Punahou School in the early 1960s

1970's

Dr. Livingston Wong pushes for the advancement of Paramedics.

Dr. Livingston Wong

1971

The Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program was established in November.

The MEDICOM radio network for ambulance and hospital communication is established nationally.

Early 1970s 1st generation of ambulances
Early 1970's first generation of ambulances

1972

The Mobile Intensive Care Technician (MICT) program begins.

Reta Pozzi, known as “mother” because she walked quickly and the students followed her like ducks, began instructing the earliest MICTs.

Reta Pozzi

1973

First Mobile Intensive Care Technician (MICT) program graduates.

A classroom full of students
One of the first class of MICT graduates

1974

Agreement with Arm 68th Medical Detachment integrates helicopter MEDICAC transport with the City and County of Honolulu EMS.

1975

The Oʻahu EMS Advisory Board was established in March.

Oʻahu's 911 system is completed.

1976

City and County of Honolulu has 15 ambulance vehicles in its fleet:

  • Waiʻanae
  • Waipahū
  • ʻAiea*
  • Wahiawā*
  • Kahuku*
  • Kāneʻohe
  • Kailua
  • Waimānalo – Basic Life Support Unit
  • Waialua – Basic Life Support. 40hrs per week, Wednesday to Sunday
  • Wailupe
  • Pāwaʻa One
  • Pāwaʻa Two Basic Life Support. M-F, 7-3pm
  • Baker One
  • Charlie One
  • Metro One

ʻAiea, Wahiawā and Kahuku were at one time contracted units. As EMS hired more MICTs, EMS took back these three units.

Metro One started out as a Basic Life Support unit part time at the old Honolulu Police Department lot makai of the main station between Young and S. King Streets. There is a park there today.

The ʻAiea Unit was located at a facility called Pearlridge Clinic, where Pali Momi Medical Center is today.  

The Wahiawā Unit was in a room at Wahiawā Hospital; the Kahuku Unit was located in the Kahuku Hospital.  

The Charlie One Unit was located in the back of the Kuakini Medical Center.

Waimānalo opened as an Advanced Life Support (ALS) unit as a result of a lawsuit. A doctor’s son drowned in Waimānalo’s area and the father filed a lawsuit and part of the settlement was that Waimānalo had to be upgraded to ALS.

Sea rescues are coordinated between the US Coast Guard, Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) and ambulance service.

1977

Mobile Intensive Care Technician Assistant (MICT A) program begins.

Advanced Cardiac and Trauma Life Support classes begin.

Federal EMS standards are achieved.

1978

First responder courses are established for police, firefighters and lifeguards.

Handheld radios implemented to communicate with Dispatch and hospitals.

1989

The Waipahū Unit went into service out of the Honolulu Fire Department’s Waipahū Fire Station.

1998

Established integrated 911 console system to facilitate information sharing.

The City and County of Honolulu Emergency Services Department is established.

2000

Adopted a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system to digitize records management.

2005

The Makakilo Unit went into service.

The Nānākuli Unit began service.

2006

Adopted ProQA (Professional Quality Assurance), a priority dispatching program, to streamline medical response.

2008

911 mapping implemented to triangulate a caller’s location.

2011

Migrated radio system to an 800MHz platform.

2012

ʻEwa Beach Unit opens following the close of St. Francis West.

Ewa beach unit ambulance
Ewa Beach Unit

2013

Established an Integrated Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system with HFD.

Migrated to an IP based 911 system.

2018

EMS migrates to FirstNet Communication System.

The FirstNet network was created for First Responders after 911.

Waipiʻo unit opens in Dec. 2018

Waipiʻo Station
Waipiʻo Station

2019

Salt Lake Unit opens.

EMS migrates to the Joint Traffic Management Center.

2020

EMS migrates to the P25 radio system.

2021

EMS activates the Catalyst back up radio system.

2022

On Memorial Day, MICTs Sean McGuire and Troy Higuchi were greeted by Herman Encarnacion, who was in the first MICT class in Hawaiʻi.

MICTs Sean McGuire and Troy Higuchi were greeted by Herman Encarnacion, who was in the first MICT class in Hawaiʻi.
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