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Recent air rescues prompt officials to remind hiking safety

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 02:18 p.m. HST, May 18, 2014

Recent rescues involving hikers and helicopters is prompting the Honolulu Fire Department to remind hikers to stay on marked trails and to pack appropriately.

Firefighters responded to six rescues Saturday involving Air 1, some of which could have been preventable, officials said.

"At the time we had other concurrent emergencies that needed Air 1," HFD spokesman David Jenkins said. "We're not going to deny service to anyone, but we're unable to be at two places at one time."

This also concerns rescue personnel because after so many hours in the air, the helicopter must land and undergo mandatory maintenance and inspection, Jenkins said. 

"Every hour in the air brings us closer to the maintenance point," Jenkins said.

One incident happened Saturday at 2:56 p.m.

Firefighters responded to several dehydrated hikers in a group of 18 people on a trail in Pearl City. Eleven hikers were airlifted off the trail and one person was transported by EMS.  The remaining six hikers were able to get out on their own, Jenkins said.

Another incident occurred at Haiku Stairs or "Stairway to Heaven" at 8:09 a.m. Two men went on the closed trail and got stuck on a ridge. They were unable to go up or down, he said.  

The men were airlifted out of the trail with no injuries.

An incident Tuesday involved two female visitors from Florida who read about the Olomana Trail online, according to Jenkins.

The trail is not closed to the public, but can be very hazardous and should be attempted by experienced hikers, he said.

The women got stuck on the trail and were airlifted without injuries.

Jenkins want to remind hikers to bring lots of water, charged batteries, wear proper footwear, know your skill level, and let others know where you're hiking.  He also said to allow for enough daylight in the return trip.

With schools entering summer vacation and more visitors come to the island, he forsees more incidents. 

"People getting hurt, that's not necessarily preventable.  But making the conscious choice to go off trail, or do something beyond your skill level or not wearing appropriate shoes is," he said. "Healthy people putting themselves in situation where assistance is needed." 

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kiragirl wrote:
Hikers who need assistance that were preventable should be charged for service rendered.
on May 18,2014 | 01:41PM
FLIPTOP2 wrote:
Amen!! Stupid is as stupid does!
on May 18,2014 | 05:42PM
mokebla wrote:
Any visitors or hikers that doesn't follow protocol on hiking trails and the wildness should be charged for rescue or service for emergency abstract by land, sea, or air period!
on May 18,2014 | 02:18PM
Anonymous wrote:
Those people who venture onto trails that are closed are on their own, as far as I'm concerned, as well as those who venture off the trails because they over estimate their abilities to hike those trails. At the very least, if they are rescued, they need to pay, no ifs or buts about it!
on May 18,2014 | 04:29PM
localguy wrote:
Exactly. Rescue forces could have the mobile credit card swipe device. Before rescuing anyone, have them sign the Rescue Contract where there charge will be shown. Once signed, they cannot try to cancel the charge. Works for me. And no, no charge to the injured. Just the baboozes who willfully get lost on an island.
on May 18,2014 | 05:41PM
blkdrgn wrote:
Add one more to the list. Today, 5/18/2014 at 2:09pm. Kokohead trail which is an illegal trail and to make matters worse it's the same hill that Kokohead shooting range is at with live fire.
on May 18,2014 | 05:53PM
Anonymous wrote:
Hikers being rescued from prohibited areas need to be met by HPD or the appropriate law enforcement agency along with EMS or any other medical assistance needed when they're brought back to safety. These people need to be cited or arrested if appropriate. I know of one recent rescue where one of the parties "rescued" has outstanding warrants out of state. Had HPD interacted with the individual before they were taken away by EMS, the warrants would have been discovered and one more felon would have been off the streets.
on May 18,2014 | 08:24PM
browniegirl wrote:
How much did these rescues cost the rest of us - who KNOW better? We continue to enable those who refuse to follow instructions, with no consequences. Why change their behavior? They get in trouble and the State will send up the rescue squad. No charge. No problem.
on May 18,2014 | 10:36PM
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