Oahu citizens group to hand out 1,000 water rescue tubes

HONOLULU (AP) — An Oahu community group is in the process of handing out 1,000 water rescue tubes.

The campaign is a citizen-led effort by Hawaii Kai Lions Club Treasurer Eric Kvick in partnership with the Rescue Tube Foundation on Kauai, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

Kvick gave away 100 rescue tubes at Maunalua Bay in April to first responders and private homeowners who live on the water. One of his tubes is mounted on a pole at the popular east-shore spot known as China Wall — and was used in September to save a life.

Kvick said another tube that he posted at Spitting Cave helped save someone in August.

The tubes, about 4 feet long, are the same as the ones used by lifeguards except without metal clips on the end. They cost about $80 each, shipping and hardware included.

“I’m pushing for 1,000 tubes and to make it happen sooner rather than later instead of waiting for someone drowned here,” said Kvick, a painting and carpentry contractor. “Let’s get the tubes there before it’s in memory of someone.”

The tubes are stationed, so far, at Spitting Cave, China Wall and on a private property in Kailua.

Branch Lotspeich, executive director of the Rescue Tube Foundation, has made it his mission to lower the number of drowning deaths not only in Hawaii but around the world by making the tubes available.

“The reason we’re putting these rescue tubes out on the beach for family members, friends or good Samaritans to use is in fact to protect the rescuer,” he said. “By providing the rescuer with this flotation device, they’ll be able to go out and rescue someone. That’s happened time and time again.”

The program, in its ninth year, started as an outgrowth of the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay’s efforts, Lotspeich said. A citizen placed the first tube on a shrub at the remote Larsen’s Beach on Kauai’s North Shore in 2008 and within the first few weeks, someone used it to rescue a friend, Lotspeich said.

Now there are more than 200 rescue tubes around Kauai shorelines, including Queen’s Bath in Princeville, as well as some on the Big Island, Maui, Oahu and the Mainland.