NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) –
Oahu’s Leeward Coast – with its choppy seas and steep beaches – is attracting more people every year, including inexperienced visitors.
With the arrival of new, much needed rescue equipment on Friday, the waters there are a little bit safer. The delivery was celebrated by those who have long worried that Leeward lifeguards were stretched too thin.
“If we’d get a call, we’d have to launch from Waianae and commute by water 15, 16 miles,” said Capt. Kelly Krohne, of Ocean Safety’s Rescue Seven unit.
With more and more people testing west side waters, and just one rescue jet ski, lifeguards struggled to respond to calls.
They’ve made more than 130 rescues from the area between the Waianae Boat Harbor and Iroquois Point so far in 2017, including 15 at Kahe Beach in a single day during a recent swell.
Waianae Coast lifeguards took ownership of a brand new jet ski on Friday, meaning they now have two rescue crafts.
“Because of the support from Kymberly Pine we were able split the district in half,” said Lt. James Patterson, of Ocean Safety’s Lifeguard Services Division.
Meanwhile, another challenge foir lifeguards looms: they’re set to lose their limited liability protection on June 30 after lawmakers killed a measure that would have extended their protection from those suits.
“There’s going to be a cost, when we have to get additional insurance protection. It means we have to spend time on attorneys fee and additional burdens and costs,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
Lifeguards say they’re worried about lawsuits, but that doesn’t stop them from lifesaving.
The next challenge for the lifeguards, they say, is to get a tower at Kahe Beach.