Hikers, please plan ahead, be safe

Kauai’s rescuers have been busy. That’s not a good thing.

Saturday morning, firefighters rescued a stranded hiker from Kokee. The details are this:

On Friday, about 9:30 p.m., dispatch received a call from a hiker from Washington who became stranded on Haele‘ele Ridge in Kokee and ran out of water. Hiker was advised to remain in place and call dispatch in the morning, so firefighters could form a plan of rescue.

Hiker called dispatch about 6:40 a.m. on Saturday, and firefighters from Waimea Fire Station were en route to Kokee shortly after 7:20 a.m.

About 8:50 a.m., firefighters assessed that the road to get to the hiker was inaccessible due to the deep potholes and slick conditions. Air 1 was then deployed.

About 9:30 a.m., four personnel aboard Air 1 located the stranded hiker and transported him to awaiting medics at the end of Kaumualii Highway in Mana. The hiker refused medical treatment, and was given water by awaiting medics.

Wow.

That’s a lot of effort and money that had to be spent on someone who planned poorly for a hike, managed to get stranded, and ran out of water. First firefighters and then a helicopter to rescue this person and give them water. Ironic that rescuers went through all that for this person to then decline medical treatment. They did, though, accept the water.

Good work to Kauai’s emergency personnel for a job well done. Can’t quite say the same for our visitor who required saving due to lack of preparation. Their actions might, to some, be considered foolish.

In a another rescue last week, firefighters responded to two calls of hikers in distress on Thursday night, both near Makaleha Falls in Kapaa.

Police Dispatch was notified of the first incident shortly after 6:45 p.m., when three hikers reported they were lost and stranded on the Makaleha Falls trail. At the time, one of the hikers reported being severely cold and that she could not feel her legs.

While on their way to respond, firefighters from the Kaiakea fire station received a second call of two other hikers also lost on the trail. The two hikers had joined the first group of hikers at their location.

About 7:30 p.m., firefighters set out to hike the trail and by 8:50 p.m. they discovered the five hikers at their pinged location.

All hikers were able to walk out of the trail on their own with the guidance of the firefighters, and safely arrived at the trailhead about 9:45 p.m.

The five hikers, all visitors from California and New York, did not report any injuries to officials, declined further medical treatment and left in their vehicles.

Again, well done to our emergency responders, who went to the assistance of visitors who, unfortunately, also didn’t prepare or plan well for a hike, managed to get lost, stranded and put themselves in danger.

While we certainly welcome our visitors, and want them to enjoy the island’s beauty, we also caution them to not venture into the wilderness without at least doing a little research. Be safe. Check maps ahead of time, bring sufficient food and water, maybe even extra gear if you’re planning a long hike. Be aware of your surroundings. The worst thing you can do is go into an unfamiliar place, be overconfident in your abilities and lose your way. Not only do you put yourself in danger, but also the very lives of those who sometimes must take extreme measures to save you.

Rescuers are excellent at their job and always ready to respond, but we would rather they not have to respond to situations that could easily have been avoided with a little homework.

Kauai’s terrain can be unforgiving for hikers who don’t know what they’re getting into and head out without proper planning. We want everyone to be safe as they discover what makes Kauai so special, and that safety starts with every individual.

We’re not trying to castigate those who just went through difficult times and are likely still shaken up. But we also believe they should be held accountable for their actions, for their own good and the good of those who dedicate their lives to looking after others in trouble.

These rescue efforts ended up with happy endings. Not all do. Please be careful.

1 Comments
  1. MisterM January 8, 2019 5:38 pm Reply

    Unless there are life-threatening situations, these people should be forced to present a credit card prior to any “rescue” attempt being made. How much did that helicopter flight cost taxpayers? $3K? This is a tropical island – nobody is dying from thirst because they get lost (just how stupid do you have to be to get lost?)


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