Lifeguards plan ‘second wave’ of fundraising

The Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association is planning a second wave of fundraising activities this summer to raise money for life-saving equipment and education initiatives in future years.

Last year’s 1st Wave Celebration raised enough funds to allow the county to equip 10 lifeguard towers with either a Yamaha Wave Runner or an all-terrain vehicle, an announcement by organizers states.

Additional funds were spent on assisting the Rescue Tube Foundation to purchase and deploy more of the flotation devices at beaches and to support other ocean safety efforts.

Kaua‘i has reported a significant reduction in drownings over the past two years, according to the announcement.

“Any time one drowning or rescue is averted, we on Kaua‘i consider it a move in the right direction,” Kaua‘i County Fire Chief Bob Westerman said.

The number of reported drownings are down by five to seven per year over the past two years, the lifeguard association reports, applauding the efforts of the  Ocean Safety Bureau and the Fire Department.

“This is a significant drop-off from Kaua‘i’s perennial average of 10 to 14, and it means that many families have been spared from tragedy and destruction.  However five is still five too many,” said Dr. Monty Downs, a physician who also is president of the Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association.

Like the first year’s fundraising effort, the 2nd Wave Celebration will fund about a dozen initiatives, said Andy Melamed of KONG Radio Group in Lihu‘e, an organizer last year and this year.

Melamed said a list of fundraising activities will be publicized in coming weeks for events that begin this summer and continue through October.

 Funds will be used to support the Kaua‘i Keiki and Junior Lifeguard programs, and also pay for weather-proof displays for beaches that will include written safety information and illustrations of rip tides and other hazards.

The 2nd Wave will support the Wave Project, a program instituted by the Ocean Safety Bureau to “educate our educators” by providing safety training to tourism industry workers.

The Rescue Tube Foundation has already spearheaded the placement of 190 flotation devices around the island, and those devices have been credited with saving more than 15 lives since the program’s inception.

Funds raised by the 2nd Wave would help finance maintenance and replacement of tubes, as well as the addition of more of the lifesaving devices.

The association also supports swim clubs and safety awareness initiatives for Hawai‘i Surfing Federation events

Funds also will be used to support KORE (Kaua‘i Ocean Recreation Experience).

The group helps those who are physically challenged or who have special needs to get back into the ocean with the assistance of trained professionals

The Kaua‘i Beach Guardians are volunteers trained in CPR, first aid and basic water rescue skills.

 They also will also benefit from funds raised by the 2nd Wave campaign.

The campaign will feature Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association calendars, and a grand prize drawing for an Alaska Airlines trip for four to any of 90 Alaska Airlines destinations, organizers said.

 An October concert also is planned.

For more information, call Melamed at 482-0218. A 2nd Wave website will be operational by mid-April.

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