Kauai Rescue Tubes Save Swimmers Lives
Saving Swimmers Lives on Kauai with Rescue Tubes On Public Beaches
Jenn Tyler, formerly John Tyler, center, with Cori and Craig Beck who were both saved from drowning at Moloaa Bay with Rescue Tubes last September. She began placing Rescue Tubes on Kauai’s beaches in 2008.
When John Tyler Cragg first hung a Rescue Tube on a Kauai beach in 2008, he was simply a good-hearted individual doing what he thought would save a few people from drowning each year.
What he didn’t anticipate is that more than 70 lives would be saved on Kauai with Rescue Tubes since that day, and probably more because many rescues aren’t reported.
“When I first started we were losing about 12 people per year to drowning at our beaches, so I envisioned that number going down significantly, but I never imagined Rescue Tubes would save so many lives,” says John, clearly elated. “It’s beyond my dreams.”
A soft-spoken Kauai resident, John owns lifeguard, swimming and CPR training businesses on Kauai and on the mainland and uses Rescue Tubes in his professional capacity.
On Kauai, he knew that people were grabbing whatever they could find on a moment’s notice to rescue swimmers in distress, especially at the island’s unlifeguarded beaches, even broken surfboards. “Now they can use something that is made for that purpose,” he says.
Ingeniously simple, a Rescue Tube is a 50-inch long thick piece of foam that is buoyant enough to support three adults. An eight-foot long cord is attached to the tube making it quick and easy to drape over the rescuer’s shoulder while swimming out. Silkscreened on one side of the tube are at-a-glance instructions of how to use the device.
When John first began placing Rescue Tubes on Kauai’s beaches, he met some resistance and negativity. “I had a lot of naysayers,” he says. “I was only hanging them on trees at the start and people said they would get stolen or that there would be liability issues.
“I said politely, ‘Back off,’ to those negative comments,” John says. “Don’t stop someone from doing some good.”
He was right on target. Two weeks after he hung a tube at Lumahai Beach on Kauai’s north shore, a 15-year-old saved a 40-year-old with a Rescue Tube, keeping the man afloat and gently kicking toward shore until lifeguards arrived on jet-skis from Hanalei 20 minutes later.
Two more people who are grateful for John’s determination are Corrinne “Cori” and Craig Beck, owners of Garden Isle Bath & Body in Kapaa, who were both caught in a rip tide at Moloaa Bay last September, a month before Craig’s 70th birthday.
After swimming in the morning with friends then having lunch on the beach, Cori returned that afternoon to swim in the inviting crystal clear water.
“I was just floating around for awhile. When I tried to swim in to shore, I was being pulled down and out,” Cori says.
Craig, sensing something was wrong, began wading in to see what was happening. When Cori called to him, “I can’t get in,” he swam out and was immediately caught in the undertow, too. “He got to me, then he went by me,” Cori says. “I heard him say, ‘We need some help out here.’ ”
Both strong and athletic all of their lives, Cori and Craig were stunned – and after struggling to stay afloat, they were exhausted. “Another 30 seconds, I’d have been a casualty,” Craig says.
“I looked back at him, he just looked like he’d succumbed to it. He was drifting away from me,” Cori says, choking up.
Then seemingly out of nowhere, two young women about 19 years old swam out to Craig with a Rescue Tube and asked him, “Can you hang onto this?” He draped himself over the thick foam tube, began catching his breath and said to the women, “Oh you guys are beautiful. You have got to be angels.” Together the three gently kicked into shore and the two ladies hauled Craig onto his beach chair.
Meanwhile, a woman with a British accent, swam out to Cori and gave her a Rescue Tube. “I said, ‘What about you?’ but she just swam away,” Cori says with gratitude.
John’s advice for others: “Follow something that’s in your heart that you know is helpful and people will get behind it after they see it’s working,” he says quietly. “We all have our own skills that can make the world a better place.”
Rescue Tubes are now being placed around the island by the non-profit Kauai Lifeguard Association, helmed by Dr. Monty Downs, and the Rescue Tube Foundation, Inc., a non-profit corporation created by the Rotary Club of Hanalei. Each Rescue Tube costs only $90 installed. Downs would like to see at least 50 more Rescue Tubes on Kauai’s beaches.
Donations for Rescue Tubes can be made at www.kauailifeguards.org or by mailing a check to Kauai Lifeguard Association, 160 Lani Alii Place, Kapaa, HI 96746
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Yumi and Jere were wonderful lifeguards when they guarded our end of year pool party on Wednesday June 11 from 11-2. They were in touch with me, were on time and prepared, and were very responsible and knowledgeable. I was so happy to be able to put two adults in charge of our fourth grade class party.
Based on my experience with Yumi Temple and her cohort Jere, I would highly recommend Happy Swimmers.
Thank you for a wonderful experience. So happy we used your business.
Hi Jenn.. wow today was really scary. I had to use my first aid skills on my mom! We work at the same preschool & she had an allergic reaction & went into shock! I did everything I remembered until the paramedics came.. I really can’t thank you enough for teaching me everything I needed to know!
Everything about my experience with Happy Swimmers has been amazing! From the scheduling to the fantastic teacher they sent for my 5 and 6 year old. The instructor, Emma, had to contend with 2 very different personalities along with 2 different levels of swimming experience. She was more than equipped to deal with that and gave each child unparalleled support, encouragement and instruction. I highly recommend this service to all parents that want to give their child a great experience in being water safe!
We have three kids ages 7, 4, and 2 & 1/2. This was our second year having Happy Swimmers, with instructor Trisha Commons, come teach our kids (the two oldest) to swim. I tried another company the year before I tried Happy Swimmers and although the kids learned swim safety, they were bored and did not learn how to enjoy the pool. Trisha got our son, who did not really like swimming, having fun and by the end of last year could swim the entire length of the pool on his own.
Trisha is great with the kids and is flexible in her teaching style to work with different personalities. She is able to get the kids confident in their abilities and teaches them how to swim, but also teaches them how to have fun! I will definitely be asking Happy Swimmers and Trisha to teach the kids again next year.
I have a toddler and a pool and wanted to make sure my son learned water safety. After taking some group classes last summer, I knew I wanted more one-on-one attention at our home. This summer I reviewed several in-home companies and was impressed with Happy Swimmers approach of water safety.
Trish worked with my stubborn 2-yr old 2-3 times a week. Within the first lesson he knew how to climb out of the pool and to ask permission before getting in. Although our goal was to get him water comfortable more than “swimming”, he indeed learned to swim within a few weeks. We extended our lessons and really appreciated Trish’s approach. We will sign up again next summer. Many of our friends with children happened to be present on several lessons and I expect they will also sign up next summer as well.
Hired a happy swimmers for private life guard for a party for over 200 people at my house. The lifeguard was great. She called to confirm before, came on time, and stayed later then we originally signed up because the party went over. She also showed up on time despite there being a black out that because of storms the day before. I highly recommend Happy Swimmers.