WAILUKU, Hawaii — The president of a group that installed rescue tube stations along south Maui beaches said while he is happy the tubes are working, he wishes they weren’t necessary.
The yellow tubes have reportedly assisted in three rescues since Dec. 29, The Maui News reported Sunday.
The tubes were put up by the Rotary Club of Kihei-Wailea with help from former Ocean Safety Battalion Chief Colin Yamamoto in response to increased drownings.
Last year, the county gave the club permission to install tubes every 300 feet (91 metres).
Nine lifeguards cover beaches in south Maui, according to hawaiibeachsafety.com.
The tubes meant to supplement areas in south Maui where there are no lifeguards, said John Moore, the club’s president.
Canadian tourist Kelsey Marks, a trained lifeguard and a synchronized swimmer who helped rescue two people in danger of drowning last month, said she and another man would have not been able to save two lives without the tubes.
“As a lifeguard, we are trained to always have an aid because it doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer you are. The ocean will always be stronger,” Marks said via email.
So far, 86 tubes have been placed countywide.
Other local associations and clubs are also joining in on the work and funding efforts themselves.
The Kaanapali Operations Association installed 30 tubes along 3 miles of Kaanapali coastline and plans to install an additional 30.
Rescue tubes have been available across the islands since Kauai residents started placing them in remote beaches in 2008.
It’s unclear how many rescues the tubes have been a part of.
There have been 76 ocean drownings in Kauai from 2007 to 2016.
It’s unclear if the trend has gone upward or downward since the tubes became present, according to state Department of Health data.
However, Kauai has not seen a double drowning since 2008, Yamamoto said.
Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com