When the volcano erupts on the Big Island, the level of sulfur dioxide emitted creates an emergency condition for residents (birds and animals) in the area, especially those with asthma and other respiratory ailments.
Rep. Bob Herkes sent out a memo yesterday to the Speaker and Senate President re-emphasizing the critical need for a Medical Van on the Big Island as evidenced by the recent VOG levels that forced closure of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the set up of emergency shelters for those who chose to evacuate. The problem is compounded by the sheer size of the island, with communities scattered throughout isolated and remote rural areas.
"The Med Van could have been dispatched to provide immediate help to people suffering respiratory distress caused by noxious gases and ash. A critical health and safety issue could have been addressed immediately if we could just get an emerency response system available to isolated areas of the island," said Rep. Herkes.
There is $500,000 allocated in the budget for Kona hospital to acquire and administer the Emergency Medical Van. The emergency and basic medical clinical services would be provided to the South Kona, Ka'u, and upper Puna areas. The budget bill, HB2500, HD1, SD1 is headed for conference committee next week.