By Paradise Afshar and Christina Maxouris, CNN
While search teams in Hawaii are looking for a medical transport aircraft officials believe crashed with three people aboard, the governor issued an emergency proclamation to bolster medical airlift services — which he said are a critical need in the isolated island chain.
The aircraft went missing off the coast of Maui while on the way to pick up a patient on Hawaii Island, according to the emergency proclamation Hawaii Gov. Josh Green signed Friday.
The aircraft was reported to be a King Air twin engine prop plane and reportedly went off the control facility’s radar south of Hana, a community on the eastern end of the island of Maui, the US Coast Guard said on Twitter.
A Coast Guard patrol boat recovered debris from the search area, “with no confirmation that it is from the aircraft,” it said, adding, “Coast Guard search teams continue in the search.”
The three people aboard are believed to have been crew members, according to the Global Medical Response (GMR), a medical transport company that operated the fleet that the aircraft belonged to.
“We are notifying family members now and ask that you not share any names until we can reach their families,” the company wrote on Facebook. “We are doing everything we can to bring our team members home.”
GMR halted all transport and aircraft of the fleet and grounded all aircraft crews in Hawaii — a move that significantly reduced the island’s medical airlift capacity, according to the governor’s proclamation.
“Because Hawaii is an island chain that is geographically isolated from other states, the reduction of medical airlift capacity threatens the health, safety and well-being of all residents, and visitors, within Hawaii,” the document says.
To combat the shortage, the proclamation will, among other things, allow actively licensed and certified emergency medical personnel from out of state to work as certified flight paramedics and registered nurses on medical transport aircraft, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
“The primary focus is augmenting services to the neighbor islands and deploying extra capacity for critical care needs,” the office said.
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