KLA wants a PWC at every lifeguard station

LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association members and  island residents concerned about ocean safety share a dream: a Waverunner at each of Kaua‘i’s 10 lifeguard stations.

Andy Melamed of the KQNG Radio Group and Dave Rullo, a real estate agent from Hanalei, have a plan for an ocean safety campaign called “First Wave Celebration,” culminating with the KLA First Wave Celebration Concert on Oct. 9 at Kilohana Pavilion.

The campaign’s ultimate goal is to get as many Waverunners as possible for Kaua‘i’s lifeguard stations.

“The 10 lifeguard stations positioned around our island are equipped with just three high-powered Jet Ski wave-crafts,” Kaua‘i Ocean Safety Bureau director Kalani Vierra said in a KLA release. “Each Jet Ski is responsible for covering up to 30 miles of ocean, a massive area when you consider the critical time-window lifeguards need for a successful rescue and recovery.”

Melamed said South Seas Imports will be providing a generous community-service rate to KLA on Yamaha HD Waverunners, rescue sleds and trailers.

“The goal of this campaign is to raise funds to provide as many jet skis for our Kaua‘i lifeguards as possible,” Melamed said. “This will help them carry out their remarkable daily work of making rescues and saving lives.”

Melamed and Rullo are collaborating with the Ocean Safety Bureau, Dr. Monty Downs of the Kaua‘i Water Safety Task Force, and Roberta Charles of the Rotary Club of Po‘ipu Beach to launch this ocean safety and awareness campaign.

“I have worked as an Emergency Room physician at Wilcox Hospital for almost 40 years,” Downs said. “During that time, I have been witness to many of our island residents and visitors who tragically drowned and those who incurred debilitating injuries which could have been prevented.”

Downs said KLA was formed with a mission to save lives.

“This First Wave Celebration will do much to accomplish that,” he said. “It will also be a wonderful occasion to bring our island people together to share our concern and celebrate our determination.”

Vierra said Kaua‘i’s ocean currents can play havoc with even the most experienced watermen and women.

“More rescues and drownings per capita occur on Kaua‘i than in any other county in the United States,” he said. “We have some of the world’s best trained and highly dedicated lifeguards, but we also have the most isolated beaches stretching over ninety-plus miles of Kaua‘i’s coastline.”

The ocean safety campaign will include a variety of ways to reinforce ocean safety messages throughout the summer, Melamed said.

It will culminate with a concert and fundraising event which includes sweepstakes tickets, live and silent auction packages.

Taj Mahal and the Hula Blues Band, Donovan Frankenreiter and Friends, Augie T. and Frank DeLima and a special guest performance by Tina Marie, the Las Vegas Master Hypnotist who recently enraptured the Secretary’s Day festivities, are some of the performers being approached, Melamed said.

Kaiola Canoe Club will offer food and refreshments.

Melamed said businesses and volunteers are needed for the event. Call Melamed at 826-9291, or Rullo at 634-3556, or email aloha@kauaifirstwave.org if interested in helping.

Go to wwwkauaifirstwave.org for more information.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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