Rescue tubes save lives, but property owners are afraid to use them

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With their backs to the ocean, sightseers try to capture the perfect photo as powerful waves crash into the rocky cliffs at China Walls.

It's one of the most beautiful spots on the island. It's also notorious for drownings and near deaths.

That fact prompted the Hawaii Kai Lions Club and the Rescue Tube Foundation in April to give away free rescue tubes for spots where there's no lifeguard.

Eric Kvick of the Hawaii Kai Lions Club says the tubes were lifesavers, literally.

"Somebody threw him the tube and firefighters said he definitely would have drowned without the tube," Kvick said, describing a rescue with a tube at Spitting Caves in August.

Another crisis was averted with a rescue tube placed at China Walls.

But some property owners said "no thanks" to the giveaway because of their worries about being sued.

To address that concern, state Sen. Stanley Chang is proposing a measure that would amend the Good Samaritan Law to protect people and property owners from liability when using a rescue tube. The bill also extends the protection to property owners who offer defibrillators.

"Because we are dealing with life or death situations, a lot of the property owners might not want to host the rescue tube for fear of the liability if something goes wrong," Chang said.

He added, "The fear of liability is often what prevents people from taking these actions so if we are able to raise that standard and put these property owners at ease, hopefully we'll be able to rescue some of these people."

Meanwhile, the Lions Club is fundraising and plans to give away more rescue tubes this coming summer.

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