Fewer Jr. Lifeguards in ranks

WAILUA — The numbers were dismal yesterday.

“Last year, we had about 40 people,” said a Kaua‘i Ocean Safety Bureau instructor. “This year, there’re only a dozen of them. But then, everyone might just show up tomorrow.”

Only a dozen prospects showed up at the opening day for the Kaua‘i Junior Lifeguard program at the Lydgate site.

Working through the normal paperwork, the group moved right into hands-on learning by running the length of the park’s south shoreline.

“It could be the shortened summer,” said veteran water safety officer Roy Yamagata, about school schedules, who was standing in for Cleve Zarbaugh who normally heads the program at Lydgate. “But students can bring their paperwork to the first day at whatever site they choose to attend. All they need is to have the waiver form signed.”

Yamagata said, normally Po‘ipu and Hanalei are the popular sites and those sites are not scheduled to begin until the week of July 9 through July 13.

The program wraps up with the Kalapaki Beach session which runs from July 16 through July 20.

The Kaua‘i island championship will follow on July 21 at Kalapaki Beach.

Yamagata said the opening of the ocean safety program comes on the heels of an incident Sunday when five young swimmers got caught in currents near the mouth of the Wailua River.

That incident perked up ears as the Junior Lifeguard students discussed various ocean and beach hazards. At last year’s program, students were on hand at the Po‘ipu tower when an actual swimmer-in-distress call came in.

Those students witnessed first-hand the synergistic approach demonstrated by emergency response personnel in tending to the swimmer.

As water safety officers watched the dozen students negotiate a pre-measured rough water swim, visitors commented on the program as they stopped to chat with the lifeguard instructors.

Salt Pond also opened its Junior Lifeguard program yesterday. Both programs run until June 22.

The Kaua‘i Junior Lifeguard program is open to Kaua‘i youth ages 13 through 17 years of age and teaches not only lifesaving skills, but ocean safety as well.

Other areas covered in the program include drug awareness, rescue skills, CPR, first aid, teamwork, and problem solving.

The program runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and is taught by instructors from the Kaua‘i Ocean Safety Bureau.

In addition to the skills, the program involves competitive events which will be showcased at the island finals. Kaua‘i is currently the three-time state champion, and will attempt to “four-peat” at the state event on the Big Island, July 28.

Participants are asked to bring lunch, sunscreen, and a towel to each day’s training.

The Kaua‘i Junior Lifeguard program is sponsored in part by the county of Kaua‘i, the Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association, the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association, and others.

For more information, call the Kaua‘i Ocean Safety Bureau at 241-6506, or 241-6500.

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