A life-saving initiative that started on Kauai and recently expanded to Maui came to Oahu today.
Free rescue tubes were handed out to the public in Hawaii Kai.
It took $8,500 and 15 months of work. On Saturday, the Hawaii Kai Lions Club handed out 100 free rescue tubes at Maunalua Bay.
“There are a lot of drownings on the east end of Oahu according to the surveys that have been done by the state over the years, so it’s right in our backyard so we need to do something about it,” Bill Modglin, a co-chair of the project, said.
Modglin said a drowning prevention program has been at the top of the club list for a while.
According to the Department of Health, there were 273 ocean drownings on Oahu between 2005 and 2014.
More than half of those drownings were residents.
“I’ve seen people struggle in the water and thank God most of the time the lifeguard comes along and helps them out. The lifeguards do an amazing job but they cannot be everywhere all the time,” Modglin said.
The rescue tubes can be thrown out to a person in distress or a rescuer can swim to the victim.
Firefighters, lifeguards, and many aquatic groups picked one up.
“We have a lot of safety protocols in place already but it’s always nice to know there is one additional piece of equipment that you can add to your arsenal that might keep somebody safe,” Suzi Mechler, with the Hawaii Adaptive Paddling Association, said.
Everyone was required to check in and watch a short safety video before taking the tube.
“It shows a safe way to use the tube because the last thing you want to have is a double drowning,” Eric Kvick, another co-chair of the project, said.
“This is the first time I’ve heard of it so it would be nice if we could have more of these every year in different parts of the island,” Phoebe Hwang said.
That’s the goal for the future of this project.
The club said it’s already raising money for more tubes and hopes to work with other organizations.
“There’s 227 miles of shoreline. So 4,000 tubes on average would [be needed to] have a rescue tube every one hundred yards, which would be a good chance at saving some of these people who are drowning,” Kvick said.
The Lions Club told KHON2 it has met with the city to try and get the tubes at beaches. But for the foreseeable future, the club will only be handing them out at special events like the one held Saturday
KHON2 reached out to the city to see what it would take to install the tubes at beaches. We’ll let you know what they tell us when we hear back.