Life saving ‘rescue tubes’ coming to South Maui


A life-saving initiative that started in Kauai will soon be coming to several beaches on Maui.

Rescue tubes that can help prevent drownings will be placed on beaches along the south shore.

The county gave the green light for the rescue tubes earlier this year and beach-goers can expect to see them by the end of the month.

It’s a situation that Maui Ocean Safety officials say happens too often.

“There is a well known rip current that it takes so much people out into the ocean unexpectedly,” Colin Yamamoto, a battalion chief for Maui Ocean Safety, said.

The Rotary Club of Kihei/Wailea is hoping to change that using these rescue tubes.

“Right now we have 28 and we’re ordering more,” MaryMargaret Baker, with the Rotary Club of Kihei/Wailea, said.

According to the Department of Health, between 2005 and 2014, there were 114 drownings on Maui.

Twenty-seven percent of these happened on beaches along the south side of the island.

The club has been working with the fire department and the county for over two years to bring the tubes to this area.

The tubes are already installed at some beaches on Hawaii Island and Kauai.

A bystander captured video of a rescue on Kauai where a couple held onto the tube for roughly ten minutes until help arrived.

“There is over 30 known cases of deployments and saves on Kauai and we also know of several on the Big Island,” Yamamoto said.

The tubes can be thrown out to a person in distress or a rescuer can swim to the victim. We’re told there’s enough room for three people to hang on.

“Even if they do have lifeguards, we’re putting them out because what the statistics have shown that the majority of drownings occur after lifeguards go,” Baker said.

The yellow tubes will be attached to a post with information that’ll assist first responders.

“There is a number on each one and each number relates to a GPS code so when we call in or when 911 is called, they’ll say ‘We’re rescue tube 214,’ and that will trigger in the 911 call the location within 10 feet of where that pole is,” Baker said.

The rescue tubes won’t be at any state parks on Maui just yet. We’re told the club is still working with the state to get approval.

KHON2 is checking with Honolulu Ocean Safety to see if the tubes could be coming to Oahu.

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