Rescue crews assist 37 hikers on Kauai

HANAKAPIAI, Kauai (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rescuers spent Tuesday evening assisting 37 hikers unable to cross Hanakapiai Stream due to a rapid rise in the water level.

Around 5:45 p.m., police dispatchers received a distress call from one of several hikers trapped in Hanakapiai Valley. According to the caller, one man was asthmatic and did not have his medication with him.

At 6 p.m., Air 1 flew into the valley and located 37 people stranded on the far side of the stream, unable to cross.

Rescuers made a quick assessment of those needing immediate transport. Seven people were flown to Ke'e Beach, including the asthmatic male from Virginia, a pregnant woman and her husband from Idaho, a Texas woman, and a Utah couple hiking with their 10-week-old infant.

All seven were released at the scene by medics.

As the water level receded, rescuers monitored the remaining 30 hikers as they crossed the stream with the help of a rope line, and hiked back to the head of the trail on their own.

"We don't want to discourage people from enjoying Kaua'i's natural beauty," says Kaua'i Fire Chief Robert Westerman. "But nature can be a dangerous place if you're not prepared. So please, be prepared and stay safe!"

 The Kaua'i Fire Department reminds hikers of the following safety tips:

- Be sure to check the weather forecast for the day before hitting the trail. Sunny skies can be deceiving.

- Have more than enough food and water for a full day.

- Wear proper footwear.

- Make sure someone knows where you intend to hike, and when you expect to return.

- Ask questions of people that know the location, and learn the potential dangers and areas of caution.

- Bring first aid supplies.

- Understand your limitations (age, health, etc.) and if you require medication, bring it with you.

- Always be aware of your surroundings.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.