Sunday | June 25, 2017
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Your Views for June 17

Mahalo, rescuers

I would like to take this opportunity to give accolades to those who put their lives on the line saving others almost on a daily basis.

Close to noon on May 17, fire dispatch received a 911 call of a swimmer in distress approximately a half-mile south from Punaluu Beach Park and immediately dispatched our fire department resources, including the Punaluu beach lifeguard, the rescue company, the Pahala engine company, an ambulance unit and two helicopters.

The lifeguard assigned to the Punaluu tower (Kaleo Huddy) responded and found two swimmers caught in the current, approximately 100 yards offshore. The winds were blowing about 20-30 mph and the surf was high.

Kaleo made his way out with a rescue tube and reached the two males within minutes, giving them relief from the grasp of the strong current. The Pahala engine company arrived about 10 minutes later, and two firefighters, along with the second lifeguard assigned to Punaluu, also swam out with rescue tubes to assist Kaleo.

Because of the extreme hazardous conditions, the right decision was made to stay outside of the surf break to await the rescue helicopter (C-1), which arrived a few minutes thereafter. Upon C-1’s arrival, they deployed a rescue swimmer along with the Billy Pugh rescue net and brought everyone back to shore safely.

The reason this rescue operation was such a success is a result of dedicated training, teamwork and competency of those involved. That includes our dispatchers, lifeguards, firefighters, rescue team and emergency medical services personnel, all of whom are integrated in the Hawaii Fire Department.

The only addition that could have enhanced this rescue would have been the inclusion of a rescue watercraft (Jet Ski). However, I’ll save that topic for another day.

Gerald Kosaki

Hilo

 

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