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Lost, distressed hikers keep rescue crews busy

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / 2014

    The trail to Maunawili Falls in Maunawili, Windward Oahu.

Honolulu firefighters were busy Tuesday night after they rescued nine lost hikers at Maunawili Falls Trail and Waimano Trail.

At approximately 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, 12 firefighters responded to two hikers in distress at Maunawili Falls. Honolulu Fire Department Spokesman Capt. Kevin Mokulehua said the hikers, described to be in their 20s, were hiking for about two hours when they got lost.

Firefighters located them at approximately 9:41 p.m. and escorted them out of the trail. No injuries were reported.

At Waimano Home Trail, the fire department also responded to five distressed hikers at about 7:30 p.m. In a news release, Mokulehua said the hikers were on the trail for about four hours when they became lost.

After firefighters began their search, they came across two other lost hikers and escorted them back to the trailhead.

Almost three hours later, fire crews located the five hikers. There were no reports of any injuries.

Mokulehua recommended hikers to start their hike early in the day. “We don’t recommend anyone starting their hikes late. It’s very difficult to find your way back, especially at night.”

If individuals start their hike in the afternoon hours, their hike should be cut in half so they have enough time to head back to the trailhead before dusk, Mokulehua said.

Mokulehua also advised hikers to stay on the trail to reduce the risk of getting lost or injured such as a serious fall. He urged hikers to carry a charged cell phone, flashlight and a whistle in the event of an emergency.

The fire department also reminded the public to know their limits after firefighters rescued a woman at the Diamond Head Crater Trail early today after she fainted and had difficulty breathing.

Firefighters responded to the distress call shortly after 6:30 a.m. The woman, described to be in her 50s, was hiking on the trail when she ran into trouble. Fire crews arrived and located the woman and her family near the tunnel of the trail, according to Mokulehua.

Family members told rescuers she had fainted several times during their hike and had trouble breathing. The fire crew secured her in a rescue basket before Air 1 airlifted her to a nearby landing zone where paramedics assessed the hiker.

Before going on a hike, Mokulehua advised hikers to select a trail that best suits your level of experience.

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  • I’ve inveighed many times against the proliferation of Hawaii trail information on the internet. But even the internet descriptions almost always specify the expected length of the hike. I guess some hikers just can’t get started without a beer in their ear.

    • So laughable how Millennials fail to plan, get lost on a simple day hike. Unbelievable.

      After a career in the military I have no problem reading a map, understanding terrain contour lines, elevation, intersection and resection with a compass to find my location. All basic skills every hiker should learn.

      Anyone hiking without a backpack to carry these items are setting themselves up for failure. Small LED flashlights with extra batteries, trail food, extra water, whistle, compass, disposable rain parkas, signal mirror and most important of all, a large battery to recharge a cell phone several times.

      Use a local website to plan your hikes. http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/September-2013/20-Great-Oahu-Hikes/ Stay away from low class websites promising the “Hidden Hawaii” as you may be trespassing on private property, going beyond established trails.

      Check the weather before you go. Trails turn in to dangerous slip and slides in heavy rains. Let others know where you are going and when you will return. Call them when done.

      Hikers do not plan to fail. They fail to plan.

      • GSC: I agree! HFD should start fining serious DOLLARS and collecting. Such a waste and risk to our emergency personnel. And HPD should be at the rescue and arrest these people for trespassing and fine them even more. Jail time, too. That should stop a few. Locals and tourists!
        No need to list hiking preps because it seems that most of these hikers just go wherever with no regard for others that have to rescue them.

        Your GPS toy isn’t going to help you thru a dense canopy. You WILL get lost.

        • Where to begin? Some questions for you…

          You think people should be fined and/or arrested for getting lost hiking? Since when ican hiking in places like Maunawiki or Diamond Head be called ‘trespassing”? You’ve never needed HFD or HPD? If you did, were you fined or arrested for calling them based on opinions from a sideline instant expertt who decided that you didn’t really need them or shouldn’t have been doing whatever you were doing in the first place? And, how exactly were the lives of firefighters at risk from hiking up trails and escorting people out?

        • “And HPD should be at the rescue and arrest these people for trespassing and fine them even more. Jail time, too.”

          Sure, and also fine and jail the careless smoker or cook who starts a fire in their house. And fine and jail the overweight person who develops heart problem symptoms and needs an ambulance. And fine and jail the jaywalker who gets hit by a car and needs an ambulance. And fine and jail the body surfer who runs into problems in rough waves and needs a lifeguard.

          No, I don’t think so. How could it ever be sorted about who gets blamed and fined/jailed, even if bad decisions might be involved?

      • Yeah…that makes complete sense. Ban everything that people may get hurt from and need medical assistance. With that logic, they should also ban swimming in the ocean, jogging, driving, surfing, playing sports, etc. Total ign0ramus…

      • Now that’s a well thought out statement.
        Would you like to add, biking, skating, driving a car, crossing the street, swimming, soccer, playing scrabble, monopoly, and shoots and ladders?

        You don’t have to go hiking if you are so offended by it, and, as for the fireworks-
        You are just a small percentage of the people that don’t want it-so just leave if you no like.

  • Hikers should have appropriate emergency equipment as well as equipment routinely used for a hike. Along with a cell phone and some type of signal device (whistle is a good one), hikers should also carry a decent flashlight (not the one on the cell phone), chemical light sticks would work as a good signal device at night, emergency blanket and rain gear, as well as a back up battery for their cell phones. When venturing onto a hiking trail, many cell phones will quickly burn batteries while searching for or maintaining a cell signal. To minimize battery consumption, cell phones should be placed in the “airplane mode”. The phone can still be used to take pictures and videos.

    A bit of preparation will prevent unnecessary “rescues” by our first responders. Injuries and health issues happen. People getting lost due to poor planning is preventable.

    • agree but remember that not all distressed or lost hikers are tourists. Many are not. The truth is tourists come here spending tons of money to fund Hawaii’s ineffective and overly costly government. They come here for natural settings, adventures, authentic experiences, etc. Hawaii should and will pay for rescues as Colorado, for example, does which is also very dependent on tourists who set out for the back country.

  • Require hikers get a hiking permit that they have to pay for (kamaaina rate in effect). If they have a permit when rescued. No charge. If nomo permit, charged full cost of rescue.

    • Yes, and no night hiking. Rescue charge should apply for after dark rescues. BTW saw HFD Helicopter about 8 this morning coming from the direction of the Mokuluas.

    • That’s why hikers don’t care if they get lost or abide by rules. They know the taxpayers will foot the bill for manpower & equipment needed to rescue their okoles.

    • I LIKE this idea! Right now there’s zero accountability or responsibility – go START your 2-hour hike at 4:00, then be surprised that it got dark before you get back and call 911 for your free ride out of the valley. This is BEYOND lame.

    • The question isn’t dumb, it’s the hikers that use FB and their smart phone to keep track of time with 5% battery life left and only into the first 10 minutes into a 3 hour hike before sunset. LOL

  • Rules, regulations, permits, information, none will help these hikers because this generation think they know it all and have little respect for safety and the task at hand.
    Pass a bill charging lost hikers for time, money, and risk spent saving them.
    We have to help and save people but getting lost is not an accident it is poor planning, charge them.

    • You trust the shill accountants to refund the tax payers that have been busted numerous times tapping other government accounts to pay for the rail? hahahahaha good luck with that. Since they’re already sticking it to us, might as well get them to actually do some work since kitchen fires are few and far apart so they don’t do anything else 99% of the time.

    • Firemen get paid the same regardless if they are rescuing hikers or playing basketball behind the fire station.
      How do you get lost on a clearly marked trail? And if you do get lost, just spend the night and come out early the next day.

  • The common denominator here is the absence of “common sense”! Auwe, for putting our rescuers’ lives at risk for lack of common sense rarely found these days!

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