Hawaii ambulance fire leaves patient dead, paramedic injured
HONOLULU (AP) — A patient died and a paramedic was critically injured when their ambulance caught fire outside a hospital in Hawaii, emergency officials said.
“We had an ambulance tonight for reasons we don’t understand catch on fire, possibly explode, prior to entering the hospital,” said Dr. Jim Ireland, the emergency services director. “We’re all just very concerned about our team and the patient that lost their life.”
The 91-year-old patient and the paramedic were in the back of the ambulance as it pulled up to Adventist Castle Health in Kailua on Wednesday night. Another emergency medical technician who was driving the ambulance escaped injury after helping the injured paramedic escape the back of the burning vehicle.
The injured 36-year- old paramedic, a 10-year veteran, was initially treated at the hospital and then taken to another emergency room at the Straub Burn Unit, a city and county news release said.
“All our paramedics, EMTs and dispatchers are all treasured members of our staff and or family, they save lives every day, and it’s just very hard to be in a situation where our team is the ones who are injured. I’ll just leave it at that,” Ireland said. “Please pray for him.”
Ireland said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that officials at this time would not be releasing the names of the injured paramedic or the patient who died.
The patient, who was being transported to the hospital after a 911 call, died inside the ambulance. Officials declined to say what the initial call was for, citing privacy concerns.
The Honolulu Fire Department and federal officials will investigate the cause of the fire.
“This morning we were in contact with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as the ATF, and we are making all records available to these agencies because I want answers,” Ireland said. “We want answers because we want to know what happened and we want to make sure this never happens again.”
Calls and emails to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were not immediately answered.
Ireland said that he and his colleagues could not recall a similar incident in Hawaii.
“This is extremely rare. And if you look at reports from the mainland, it has happened, but it’s very, very rare,” Ireland said. “In 30 years here, I’ve never seen it.”
This story has been corrected to show the injured paramedic is a 10-year veteran, not eight.