Letter for Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017

• Lifeguards save lives, again

Lifeguards saved lives, again

A Garden Island front page article last Friday would have read “2 dead at Anini” were it not for the heroism and skill of two of our Jet Ski Lifeguards.

I’m not going to put forth the lifeguards’ names, since they represent a remarkable team of men and women who have our back each and every day.

After receiving the 911 call they screamed out of Hanalei Bay with the ski and sled, taking enough punishment in the high-surf conditions that one of the men ended up injured and unable to walk for three days. Within minutes they got to the area called Back Channels Anini, moments before the couple — who had been swept out to sea and fortunately with a boogie board for a flotation device — would have been engulfed by roaring 25-foot wave faces.

For the likes of me and the vast majority of our readers, high-speed driving a 10-foot long Jet Ski in stormy seas would be untenable, a toothpick in a blender. Obviously a pre-requisite of being a lifeguard is to be an expert waterperson, and the reason I’m not mentioning the two names is that this kind of rescue takes place “routinely,” a couple of times a week, maybe not always quite as dramatic as last Thursday’s.

Thank you, lifeguards for your daily expertise and conditioning and courage. You saved the lives of the couple, and you saved all of us on Kauai from suffering. Equally important, but maybe not as spectacular: For every amazing rescue, you perform several thousand preventions. We also thank you for the effort and aloha behind that. That’s one thing that myself and our readers can do, and we will never know how many lives you and the rest of us save with these preventions which can range from a kindly spoken “be careful” to a strong “Hey, don’t go out there today.”

Monty Downs, M.D., Wailua

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