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Making Kaua‘i’s beaches a little safer one tube at a time

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Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2008 12:00 am

Anahola resident John Tyler is on a mission.

After learning that roughly 12 drownings happen annually on Kaua‘i, he had an idea to place rescue tubes at unguarded beaches.

“Our lifeguards do a great job, but they can’t be everywhere,” Tyler said. “That’s where the extra tubes can help.”

As a lifeguard trainer for more than 15 years, Tyler felt the need was evident to have some basic lifesaving equipment on the dangerous unguarded beaches.

“It came to me simply to connect the dots and see some donated tubes on Kaua‘i could help cut the drownings here,” he said. “Bystanders want to help; I just saw the ability to give them and the victim a professional tool that makes it all easier.”

And last weekend, a South Carolina man was rescued at Lumahai Beach by a fellow beachgoer using a recently placed rescue tube. Nikona Ghiglari noticed the man in distress, grabbed the tube and swam out to assist Craig Touchton. Touchton was brought ashore by Ghiglari and Hanalei lifeguards on JetSkis, according to county spokesperson Mary Daubert. Touchton was responsive at the scene, but was taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital as a precaution, Daubert said.

“I was jumping for joy when I heard the news,” Tyler said ecstatically. “The news was very validating.”

Last fall, Tyler placed a trial rescue tube at Larsen’s Beach on the island’s Eastside. The tube stayed intact, so Tyler and Monty Downs, chair of the Water Safety Committee, installed seven more tubes at north and east shore beaches last month.

“The intention of the placement of these tubes is to provide a Good Samaritan swimmer a professional device that could help save someone in trouble from drowning,” Tyler said.

Paying for the $45 rescue tubes out of his pocket, Tyler placed them in locations where Downs knew drownings had occurred before.

Posted next to each tube is a laminated card that explains what the tube is for and guidelines of what to remember when the tube is used for an emergency.

Though Tyler has paid for the tubes himself, he said he is accepting donations to go toward the purchase of more.

“My vision is to have at least one donated tube at all the unguarded popular beaches on the island and cut the yearly drownings on Kaua‘i significantly,” he said.

Despite the fact that the county is aware of the tubes, they cannot take responsibility for them, Tyler said.

Tyler, who runs a swim school for two months a year in Los Angeles, has offered a free half-hour training course to those interested in learning how to use the tubes. He also hopes beachgoers “adopt” the tubes as a way to keep an eye on them in the case one goes missing.

“I am asking people who frequent these beaches to become familiar with the tubes and to not take one home,” Tyler said. “Their benefit is only possible staying at the beach.”

• For more information, contact Tyler at jtyler@happyswimmers.com or call 635-7062.

© 2014 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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