Honolulu Lifeguards Lead The Way

Mufi Hannemann
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September 07, 2011 | Hawaiian Airlines Discount Share

The annual Duke’s Oceanfest concluded the last week of August, as we honored Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii’s most famous waterman and Olympic medalist, and acknowledged his timeless contributions to ocean sports here and throughout the world.

Among the activities was the induction into the Hawaii Waterman Hall of Fame of Peter Cole, Ethel Kukea, Aileen Soule, and Nainoa Thompson, an event organized by the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation and Hilton Hotels. The foundation provides more than $150,000 a year in scholarships to ocean athletes, and the ceremony and Oceanfest are the premier events used to help raise money. (See dukefoundation.org for more information.)

Duke Kahanamoku represented Hawaii in the Olympics over a 20-year span and earned five swimming medals during this time. He was a legendary surfer and canoe paddler, as well as a lifeguard, sheriff for the City and County of Honolulu, and Hawaii’s Ambassador of Aloha. Duke’s single-handed rescue of a dozen fishermen off the California coast when their boat capsized is the stuff of history.

Hawaii’s ocean heritage and traditions, the accomplishments of Duke Kahanamoku and our love for the sea that surrounds us bring to mind the feats of our modern watermen and women, the employees of the City and County of Honolulu’s Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division.

Under the leadership of Ralph Goto, our Honolulu lifeguards are among the most respected ocean safety professionals in the world. Honolulu lifeguards are recognized for their abilities in the huge surf that we experience on Oahu’s North Shore every winter. Former city lifeguards Brian Keaulana and Terry Ahue pioneered the use of personal watercraft (Jet Skis) for rescue operations in the early 1990s. Jet Skis are now used around the world by lifeguards, water safety professionals and rescue crews, following the model developed by the Hawaii lifeguards.

Defying the stereotype of the bronzed beach boy, Honolulu Ocean Safety personnel take pride in their abilities and professional approach to saving lives and preventing aquatic injuries. They are highly trained medical first-responders, as well as physically fit athletes with the ability to respond to life-threatening emergencies at a moment’s notice.

They also serve as ambassadors to the millions of visitors who come to the Islands each year, giving advice, directions and aloha to those who seek them out at the beach.

The Ocean Safety Division also partnered with the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Tourism Authority in developing a website (hawaiibeachsafety.org) that offers timely and accurate information about beach conditions around Oahu. This project was launched by Goto. The website is designed for visitors and those in the visitor industry who may be asked about beach conditions, such as front desk or activities coordinators, concierges, tour directors and others. It serves as an invaluable resource available to anyone seeking information about ocean safety.

Our visitors and residents can safely enjoy the beaches of our island paradise because of the dedication and watchful eyes of the men and women of the City and County of Honolulu’s Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division. Never intrusive, always vigilant, the men and women who protect and save lives throughout the year follow in the tradition of selfless service, sacrifice and courage inspired by Duke Kahanamoku throughout his life.

Joel Savoie

Position: Electrician
Location: Sheraton Waikiki

Electrician Joel Savoie is a key member of Sheraton Waikiki’s stage sound and lighting team who’s known for his great work attitude. He’s been cited for his outstanding performance, such as when he directed the team in producing the special lighting effects for a gala corporate conference.

But he’s also known for having a passion for all things “green,” specifically in energy conservation matters. Joel has attended classes to learn more about improving the Sheraton’s operations and saving money.

He’s done research and has offered suggestions on adopting renewable energy technology, such as solar day-lighting, wind turbines and photovoltaic power generation, going so far as to take a class on PV design and modeling a project to install a PV structure on the parking lot roof to provide shade while generating electricity.

His supervisors credit employees like Joel Savoie with helping to keep Sheraton Waikiki on the “cutting edge of green initiatives in the hotel industry.”


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