Bed Bugs Hitch a Ride in Hawaiian Ambulances

It is well known by now that the bite of the bed bug can be felt from coast to coast and beyond. Bed bugs are in no way limited to the continental US; thanks to cozy travel accommodations in our luggage, they have even found their way as far north as Alaska. But the Last Frontier isn’t the only remote state making the news for bed bug infestations these days, Hawaii is feeling the itch as well.

That’s right, there are even bed bugs in Paradise. But this time they’re not just settling in at hotels and resorts, these bugs are on the move. Infested ambulances in the Aloha State’s capital are becoming an increasingly dangerous and expensive situation.

Ambulances might not be the first place you’d think to find bed bugs, but from what we know about these pests it makes perfect sense. Emergency medical personnel respond to calls all over their city, visiting homes and businesses from one end of the island to the other, all in a day’s work. Coming into contact with such a high volume of people and in their homes carries an elevated risk of finding bed bugs along the way.

With only 20 emergency vehicles on the island of Honolulu, every set of wheels is crucial. When bed bugs are found in an ambulance, it is taken out of rotation until the pests have been eradicated. Officials say that losing even just one ambulance for a day can be dangerous.

“That’s taking one of our 20 ambulances out of the community,” she said. “Somebody nearby could be having a heart attack and that does jeopardize their care.”

Ambulance infestations are becoming an expensive problem to fix for Hawaiian taxpayers. The city estimates it will spend nearly $25,000 this year on bed bug prevention and extermination – that’s a 50 percent increase in their bed bug budget since last year.

Luckily, bed bugs aren’t known to carry diseases themselves, so their presence in Hawaii’s ambulance fleet is bound to be more an annoyance than a health concern. At number 45 on Orkin’s list of Top 50 Bed Bug Cities, Honolulu is doing its best both to eliminate these critters and educate patients on bed bug prevention.