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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          September 2, 2005

Release M-64





The New Orleans ordeal of four Honolulu paramedics ended today, but their odyssey is far from over.

After being stranded in New Orleans for a week, the four – Melinda Shiraki, Jill Takayama, Rochel Ortiz, and Doreen Kitagawa – managed to get out today with a police escort, said Dr. Libby Char, director of the City Department of Emergency Services.

Char said, “They’re in Baton Rouge, they have a car and they’ll head for a major city to try to get a flight home.”

Patty Dukes, Honolulu’s chief of Emergency Medical Services, said, “They’re eating at Burger King and looking forward to their first hot shower in five days.”

The four attended an EMS conference in New Orleans last week, but were unable to return home because of the approach of Hurricane Katrina. They holed up in a hotel as conditions in the city deteriorated to frightening depths.

Yesterday, they managed to hail a passing police officer, who took them to a command post where they treated injured and ill people. Last night, police took them to a safer facility.

Char said the four went with police to forage for medications and treated more victims. Finally, police arranged for them to leave the city, under escort.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said, “We are very pleased and relieved that our paramedics managed to get out to safety, and we are most grateful to the New Orleans police and EMS officials who helped keep them safe.

 “My heart goes out to New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and the hundreds of thousands of other people whose lives were devastated by the hurricane,” added Hannemann, who has launched Operation Katrina Kokua, a drive to collect donations for the American Red Cross.

A booth to collect donations will be set up Monday on Queen’s Beach in Waikiki, where the City’s first Parade of Baseball Champions will end with an evening ceremony honoring Little League and other World Series champions from Oahu.



Bill Brennan, 527-6928

Mark Matsunaga, 527-5767

Friday, September 02, 2005

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