Health Department Says Honolulu's Fire-EMS Merger Is 'Premature'

Michael Levine/Civil Beat

The Hawaii Department of Health has cautioned Mayor Peter Carlisle against merging the city's Fire and Emergency Services agencies at this time, telling him in a letter Thursday that consolidation "seems premature."

"While the counties can periodically examine how they provide ambulance services in their contracts with the State, any major changes should not be undertaken unilaterally," DOH Director Loretta Fuddy told Carlisle in the letter. "It is our conclusion that HFD has not yet demonstrated the suitability of taking on the EMS medical mission for the City and County of Honolulu."

Civil Beat first reported on the letter earlier this week. Fuddy told Civil Beat Thursday after she sent the letter that her department has had concerns about the merger ever since a report espousing it was produced a year ago. But the issue has come back to the fore in recent weeks after mayoral hopeful Kirk Caldwell made a merger one of the planks of his campaign, saying it would save money and lives. Caldwell has suggested the merger needs to move forward more quickly.

"Recently it has surfaced again about possible movement toward a consolidation," Fuddy said when asked why she felt compelled to send the letter. "It appears that there's some action towards moving towards a possible merger."

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