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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, November 7, 2002

Unit brings Marine Corps base advanced paramedic service

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

KANE'OHE — The Federal Fire Department has brought advanced life-support paramedic ambulance services to the sprawling Marine Corps Base Hawai'i.

Ambulance services for military personnel and dependents on the base had been handled by the Navy, whose ambulances have more rudimentary life-support capability.

With advanced life-support skills, paramedics in a Federal Fire Department ambulance will be able to administer drugs, administer intravenously and put tubes into airways to aid breathing, said Federal Fire Chief Michael P. Jones.

Another difference: Until now, civilians who fell ill on the base had to wait for city ambulance service from the city fire station at nearby 'Aikahi Park. Federal Fire Department ambulances, unlike Navy ambulances, will serve both civilians and military.

The department already provides a similar service on Pearl Harbor Naval Base, and is preparing to provide advanced life support to the Army and other personnel on Schofield Barracks, according to Victor M. Flint, an inspector with the department.

The federal fire station at the Marine base is one of 13 in Hawai'i. With more than 250 personnel, Hawai'i's Federal Fire Department is the nation's third largest.

The changeover was marked by ceremonies Friday at the Marine base, where commanding general Brig. Gen. Jerry C. McAbee welcomed the new unit.

The department anticipates about 100 calls a month at the Marine Corps base, which houses about 8,000 Marines, sailors and their dependents.

With personnel in Hawai'i, the department is better able than the military services to provide trained paramedics for advanced life support, said Capt. Joseph L. Moore, commanding officer of the Naval Medical Clinic at Pearl Harbor.

"It takes four to six years for somebody to become a paramedic, and it's difficult for the Army, Navy or Marines to have someone in place for that period of time before routine transfers," he said.

"Another advantage: our people live here in Hawai'i and are familiar with the military bases and the communities they serve," Moore said.

Department emergency medical service chief Dennis Yurong said, "Our (advanced life-support) service not only meets the standard of care in the (base) community, but exceeds it."

Reach Walter Wright at wwright@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8054.