WAILUKU — Emergency air ambulance helicopters will be allowed to land at night at the Maui Memorial Medical Center in April to reduce patient transport time, health officials in Hawaii said.
Currently, flights are permitted to land only during daylight hours forcing nighttime emergency flights to land at Kahului Airport and continue travel in an ambulance on the ground to the emergency room.
The 5-mile (8-kilometer) route from Kahului Airport to Maui hospital takes about 12 minutes.
The Maui Health System announced the extended air ambulance flights will begin April 1, the Maui News reported Friday.
“Solving the problem of nighttime helicopter landings at Maui Memorial Medical Center is a real game changer,” said Lee Weiss, medical director and hospital Emergency Department chairman.
Weiss expects the hospital to increasingly rely on helicopter transfers from Lanai and other parts of Maui as it begins to operate more like a care center, he said.
Night hospital helipad landings are also expected to help critical patient transfers from the Big Island by Kona-based Global Medical Response Air Medical Services, service regional director Speedy Bailey said.
Emergency air ambulances operate 24 hours a day, providing transportation and in-flight medical care for patients in rural areas including Hana, Molokai and West Maui, the company said in a statement.