The paramedic treating the 91-year-old patient Wednesday in the back of the ambulance was severely injured and in critical condition, Dr. Jim Ireland, the head of Honolulu’s emergency services department, said Thursday in a news conference.
“Our thoughts and prayers right now are with our paramedic and his family, as well as the patient who lost his life in the ambulance and his family,” Ireland said.
The fire erupted just after 8 p.m., while the vehicle was in the driveway of Adventist Health Castle hospital in Kailua, Hawaii, according to a news release from the Honolulu Emergency Services Department.
The emergency medical technician driving the ambulance jumped out of it and tried to help the patient and the paramedic, Ireland said. However, the fire had gotten too intense, and the patient could not be saved, he added.
“We don’t know why the fire started,” Ireland said. “None of us have ever seen anything like this.”
As the cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Honolulu Fire Department, Ireland would not release information about the probe, he said, to avoid speculation, noting “everything is on the table.”
“We’re just as eager for answers as everyone else,” Ireland said. “We want to know what happened, and we want to make sure this never happens again.”
A fire of this kind is extremely rare, Ireland said: “In 30 years here, I’ve never seen it.”
Officials would not release the names of the paramedic or the patient who died in the fire out of respect for their privacy, they said.