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Anti-drowning initiative sets sights on Maui, Oahu

    The Kauai-based Rescue Tube Foundation is discussing installing more rescue tubes, like this one at Kailua Beach, at more beaches on Oahu.

The executive director of a Kauai foundation trying to prevent drownings says rescue tube kiosks that have worked on the island are coming to other parts of Hawaii.

The Garden Island reported that Branch Lotspeich of the Rescue Tube Foundation says he wants to see several hundred more rescue tubes around the islands.

“Maui is next on our radar,” said Lotspeich, of Kilauea. “There are even rescue tubes now on the beaches of Emerald Isle, N.C., in their city park beach system.”

The tubes are personal flotation devices that help stabilize swimmers before they’re rescued by lifeguards, the foundation says on its website. There are more than 230 tubes on Kauai’s beaches.

The foundation says the tubes have reportedly been used in 65 rescues and prevented an estimated 18 drownings in less than four years.

The group is discussing installing the tubes on Oahu, and about 50 more tubes are being installed across the state, the newspaper reported.

Each station costs about $90, with the tube itself mounted on a kiosk with instructional graphics.

The stations spread throughout Kauai thanks to the foundation and efforts from Dr. Monty Downs, president of the Kauai Lifeguard Association. He got support from Rotary clubs and other organizations.

Lotspeich said that while on vacation in Switzerland last month, he got word that a rescue tube helped save a family of five on Hawaii island who had been pulled out by a riptide.

Lotspeich said the rescue was significant for Rescue Tube because one person grabbed the tube but gave it to another person with more experience in water safety.

“The basic premise of the rescue tubes has always been to not put a second person in danger,” he said.

It was also the first time photos surfaced of the tube being used.

“I was very moved to actually see people so concerned with the well-being of total strangers that they risked their own safety to aid them,” he said.

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