Task force looks to improve ocean safety

Anyone interested in ocean safety is invited to attend the Kauai Water Safety Task Force meeting at 3 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Department of Health office on Umi Street in Lihue.

“Following a dismal year in 2013, we’ll be trying to right the ship with an early start to 2014,” said Pat Durkin, chair of the KWSTF in an email. “Last year, we spent a lot of time in emergency meetings, handling the media, and scrambling to put on education programs like the WAVE Project. As a result, the task force meetings were sidelined.”

Durkin said the Task Force is a coalition of drowning prevention advocates and acts as an exchange for solutions.

“This is not for lifeguards only,” Durkin said. “You don’t have to even know how to swim. Every mayor and the Kauai County Council since Eduardo Malapit has attended or been represented at the meetings.”

Durkin suggests that people interested in getting involved in ocean safety look into the task force as a starting point.

There were 17 drownings in Kauai’s waters last year.

“The task force is not a nonprofit, for-profit, or any other official entity,” Durkin said. “We don’t even have a logo. We don’t have any money, and we don’t accept donations. Donations go through the Kauai Lifeguard Association.”

He said there is no mailing address — simply the address of the chairman.

Meetings are normally held the third Tuesday of the month from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

“The best ideas are the ones which have a person, or persons ready to do the heavy lifting,” he said. “Some of our best ideas have come from near-drowning victims, or relatives of those who nearly drowned.”

Durkin fills the chairman and secretary position, but the organization is seeking those willing to take on leadership roles.

“The only requirement is that you have thick skin,” Durkin said. “You also need to deal with the fact a zero-drowning rate on Kauai is not going to happen.”

Email pdurkin@aquaticexpert.com for more information.

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