“We have already realized a significant reduction in drownings and the number of necessary rescues compared to just a few years ago,” beamed Chief Bob Westerman who oversees both the Fire and Ocean Safety Bureau for Kauai.
With 15 drownings annually just a few short years ago, the challenge was there. So the Kauai Lifeguard Association (KLA) and Ocean Safety Bureau outlined a campaign that would address the problem. “We knew we had one of the finest training program and qualified life savers on duty at ten key locations around the island,” added Kalani Vierra, Kauai’s Ocean Safety Bureau director. “The next step was to increase the number of power equipped vehicles followed by a strong media and communications program that brought ocean safety and awareness to the forefront.”
The KLA First Wave — thanks to community support — did just that. The monies raised equipped every lifeguard tower with either a jetski or ATV. KLA president, Monty Downs added, “Reacting to the continued needs of rescue was not enough. If we educate the public and prepare them for their next trip to the beach, the program become a pro active preventative campaign that actually educates the visitor and resident to precautions. Hence the beginning of a KLA Second Wave campaign. The multi-tiered effort is paying off big time.”
Andy Melamed, along with input from the County and KLA devised a Second Wave campaign geared towards prevention. Working in conjunction with KONG Radio, Wala’au TV, and The Garden Island, interviews articles and commercials focused on ocean safety measures in a variety of ways were developed. However that was just the first step that Melamed instituted. He outlined a thorough program geared towards prevention.
He remarked “Funding from the 2nd wave will create beach and ocean safety signs for specific beaches. This year the focus will be at various locales where we know hazards need to be illustrated. And, Winston Welborn has done an exemplary job in creating such initially for Waiohai Beach. The signs will be weather proofed, easy to read and understand — and placed in kiosks for longevity. Community minded sponsors have made donations for up to six signs thus far as part of the 2nd Wave.” The campaign however went even deeper into the community.