Lifeguards reflect

These six Kaua’i County lifeguards completed two weeks of jetski training. Two more rounds of jetski certifcation training are planned for the lifeguards who protect beaches across Kaua’i.Also on the training scheduled is an all terrain vehicle certification program for crews who use the vehicles at the county’s Kekaha, Ha’ena, and Kealia lifeguard stations. Lifeguards included Kalani Vierra, Alan Yamagata, Chris Simpson, Lucas Hamberg, Mark McKamey and Randy Ortiz

The six lifeguards, Water Safety supervisor Kalani Vierra and Fire Chief David Sproat met with Mayor Maryanne Kusaka Wednesday morning at the Mo’ikeha Building to receive official commendations.

Sproat said the jetski training is now required of all lifeguards as part of the fire department’s plan to upgrade department-wide standards.

All lifeguards are trained in First Responder aid techniques, and the men who completed this jetski training are members of the United States Lifesaving Association, the country’s largest organization of professional beach/ open water rescuers and lifeguards.

“This is the first time the lifeguards have gotten a lot of certifications and training…they’re really trying to set the standard,” said Kaua’i Mayor Maryanne Kusaka.

Kaua’i’s lifeguards are on their way to becoming leagues ahead of any other unit in the state, she said.

Sproat added that the training has unified the lifeguards, giving them more pride in themselves and their jobs. The lifeguards proudly donned their uniforms, showing off the bright red and yellow gear and new helmets that read “lifeguard.”

Norman Hunter, water safety supervisor, said he has seen a considerable improvement in water safety from when Kusaka first took the mayor’s office eight years ago. Kusaka agreed, as during her years as mayor, lifeguards have started patrolling state beaches.

Monday is the start of jetski training for a second of three groups. The Ocean Safety bureau employs 26 lifeguards, and a majority will go through the two-week program.

Vierra was trained on Maui in teaching jetski operations earlier this summer, and will get trained in repairing them, too.

The department already owned much of the equipment they used, but at least two newly-certified lifeguards said that now “we’ve made it official.”

Jetskis will be placed at beach parks including Ha’ena, Hanalei, Kealia, Po’ipu and Kekaha, some of the most popular beach destinations for locals and visitors. The fire department has a total of seven jetskis, two of which will be used for a backup and supplementary training.

After getting jetski certified, lifeguards will be trained in operating all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, which are placed at Kekaha, Ha’ena and Kealia.

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