Kauai is getting attention at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Vancouver, B.C.
But not for drownings. For its efforts to save lives.
Branch Lotspeich, executive director of the Rescue Tube Foundation, Inc., is attending the conference as an exhibitor, explaining the rescue tube program credited with more than 100 rescues around Kauai.
“Quite a few communities had no idea this was a viable option for protecting their beach,” he said in a phone interview with TGI on Wednesday.
There are over 800 delegates from over 60 countries sharing experiences and concepts on drowning prevention. The conference, which wraps up today, is co-sponsored by the International Lifesaving Federation and the World Health Organization.
Kalani Vierra, ocean safety supervisor, is also there, with two other Hawaiian watermen.
Bridget Velasco from the Hawaii Department of Health gave a presentation Wednesday on their survey on the rescue tube program on Kauai.
Lotspeich brought a video by the Kauai Lifeguard Association on how to use the rescue tube, along with literature highlighting the program.
There are more than 200 rescue tubes around the island. People can use the tubes to swim out and help someone in distress. The program is being expanded, with rescue tubes guarding the beaches of Hawaii and Maui.
“The conference is a opportunity to share this public access rescue tube of ours that is well proven,” Lotspeich said.
“I enjoy speaking about something I love and feel strongly about,” he added.
He has met with drowning prevention experts from over 30 countries and the response to the rescue tube concepts are very positive.
“People are kind of amazed,” he said.
Lotspeich has attended a few presentations, too, and in one, learned about how drones are being sent up to look for missing swimmers. Some drones can drop inflatable rescue tubes.
“I love technology,” he said.
Another presentation reassured Lotspeich the foundation’s concept is correct that if someone is caught in a rip current, a rescue tube will give them a much higher chance of survival.
He’s been collecting many business cards from those who want to know more and believes the coming months will busy as others reach out to the Rescue Tube Foundation to get the life-saving program started where they live.
“We’ll begin the process of sharing details of how other countries, communities can put together a similar program and hopefully work with the Rescue Tube Foundation as a central clearing house,” Lotspeich said.