- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - Hawaii County ocean safety officers will be able to use rescue watercraft in time for this summer’s hurricane season and peak water recreation time.

The Hawaii County Fire Department is wrapping up a five-week training session with lifeguards this week. Fire officials plan to have the watercraft, commonly called Jet Skis, deployed on Hapuna and Pohoiki beaches this summer, reported West Hawaii Today (https://bit.ly/1EYlRIU).

Special Operations Battalion Chief Gerald Kosaki said getting the watercraft has been a long time coming.

“We were talking about this for years,” said Kosaki. “We never thought it could materialize because of the cost factor.”

Last year, Kosaki told Mayor Billy Kenoi that a lack of funding had gotten in the way of bringing watercraft to the Big Island. The Ocean Safety Division eventually received $320,000 toward the launch of the Jet Ski service.

Lifeguard and stuntman Melvin Puu, who helped lay the framework for rescue watercraft protocol in the 1980s, is part of the group helping to train the lifeguards.

In the past weeks, Puu has watched the lifeguards go from lacking confidence and control of the machines to performing surface rescues, submerged rescues and other maneuvers.

There are six watercraft units in Oahu, but the island could use 12, Puu said.

“Right now they’re starting off small,” he said. “Hopefully in the future they can expand.”


Information from: West Hawaii Today, https://www.westhawaiitoday.com



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