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Multiple Agencies Investigating Cause of Ambulance Fire

August 14, 2022

The Honolulu Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is cooperating with several city, state and federal agencies as the investigation into the cause of Wednesday’s fatal ambulance fire continues.

EMS is working with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Hawaiʻi Occupational Safety and Health (HIOSH), the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, the Honolulu Fire Department and the Honolulu Police Department.

The fire was first reported to HFD through the 911 system at 8:08 p.m., with fire units on scene by 8:12 p.m. The HFD reported the fire under control at 8:23 p.m., and the flames were reported extinguished at 8:38 p.m.

The Kāneʻohe EMS crew was transporting a 91-year-old male in serious condition from a Kāneʻohe Bay address to Adventist Health Castle. As the ambulance pulled into the hospital’s driveway, the unit ignited and became fully engulfed. The Emergency Medical Technician, who was operating the ambulance, exited the vehicle and attempted to open the back doors but the fire made entry impossible.

The Paramedic, a 10-year veteran with the department, exited the rig on his own and walked up to the emergency room at Adventist Health Castle. The medical staff there treated the 36-year- old Paramedic prior to EMS transporting him to the Straub Medical Center’s Burn Unit, where he remains listed in critical condition.

“Every day, we ask more of our EMS personnel than we do of almost anyone else. They selflessly, instinctively and heroically put themselves in harm’s way to keep the people of our communities safe, and I was heartbroken to learn about the tragic events that unfolded Wednesday night,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “We are devastated by the passing of the patient in last night’s incident, and our hearts go out to his family. And to the loved ones and colleagues of the Paramedic who was critically injured, we join you in praying for his speedy recovery and promise to do everything we possibly can to support you during this difficult time.”

The Kāneʻohe unit is out of service and will remain out of service until tomorrow. The private ambulance service, American Medical Response, is assisting in covering the jurisdiction. There were no 911 calls reported overnight and this morning in Kāneʻohe.

The EMS personnel involved in the incident, those who responded and all who request it are being offered counseling through City services.

“We want to first say to the family of the deceased patient and to our Paramedic’s loved ones, Honolulu EMS and the City is going to work to ensure there are answers as to what happened. Every day we are the men and women who save lives and to have this happen has left us heartbroken,” said Director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department Jim Ireland. “We know our Paramedic is a fighter and we just ask the community send their prayers for his full recovery.”

As part of the ongoing investigation the City is handing over vehicle maintenance records to investigating parties.