There are currently about 145 rescue tubes around Maui island with more on the way.
Approximately 40 rescue tubes will be added to ten west Maui beaches. These are D.T. Fleming, Launiupoko, Puamana, Pohaku, Kamehameha Iki, Wahikuli Wayside, Papalaua Wayside, Ukumehame, Canoe Beach, and Honokowai.
“Not all the beaches have staff by the lifeguards, so this is really to supplement what others couldn’t do for the ocean safety,” said Mariko Higashi, Lahaina Sunset Rotary Club former president.
Back in 2017, the Rotary club of Kihei-Wailea started installing rescue tubes on south Maui beaches.
People behind the project say the rescue tubes have worked so well, that community groups and hotels have decided to install them on their beaches.
“They work very well because people drown not because they cannot swim, they drown from exhaustion,” said Colin Yamamoto, a former Maui Fire battalion chief who was one of the first to bring the idea of rescue tubes to Maui.
“All the rescue tube does is it gives them a floatation device so they can rest and they don’t have to swim. They can just hang on until 911 rescuers arrive on scene,” said Yamamoto.
There are already 21 rescue tubes installed in beaches above Lahaina town by three Rotary Clubs, which are Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunrise, the Rotary Club of Lahaina and the Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset. Matiko Higashi says they are working their way, installing down the coast.
The installation of those cost about $3,000 dollars, and as a part of the Rotary Clubs’ agreement with the county, they must provide the maintenance work for the devices, which can cost about thousands each year.
But Higashi believes it’s worth it.
“I think the majority of the swimmers that are rescued by the rescue tubes are visitors,” said Higashi. “Because some people don’t really know what the condition of the ocean is when you’re first here, so it’s very very important for us to make sure that the visitors are safe and so are the locals.”
Higashi says they will be installing the next 20 tubes on April 23rd and April 25th. You can visit this website to find out updates on the installations and contact them to help volunteer.