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Governor extends disaster period following medical transport crash

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Gov. Josh Green has signed an emergency proclamation extending the use of the Hawaiʻi National Guard for interisland medical transports.

The initial proclamation was signed Dec. 16 after a Hawaii Life Flight plane with three crew members crashed in waters between Maui and Hawaiʻi Island. The crew members have not been found.

The parent company, Global Medical Response, temporarily paused Hawaii Life Flight transports as a result.

“By coordinating efforts between Hawaii Life Flight, the State Department of Health, the Army National Guard, the Coast Guard, the mayors, and medical facilities throughout the state, we helped to ensure that emergency transport was available for critically ill patients, especially those throughout our neighbor island communities,” Green said in a statement.

Many hospitals on Hawaiʻi's more rural islands are small and offer limited medical services compared to Honolulu's larger hospitals. Patients with more serious, urgent conditions often need to be transported to Oʻahu for care.

“I am so proud of the Hawaiʻi National Guard’s professionalism and responsiveness while providing critical patient air transport support over an eight-day period. The operations aligned with the State’s priority of saving lives and preventing human suffering,” Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, Hawaiʻi's adjutant general, said in a statement.

The added personnel, air support and collaboration between federal and local agencies have helped care for 52 patients so far, according to the governor’s office.

The disaster relief period will continue through Jan. 6.

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