HONOLULU — Kaua‘i resident Branch Lotspeich and The Rescue Tube Foundation were celebrated on the floor of the Hawai‘i Capitol on Wednesday in Honolulu.
Lotspeich and the Rescue Tube Foundation were honored for their lifesaving efforts to reduce the risks of drowning-related deaths on the beaches of Hawai‘i. Lotspeich and the foundation were the first House honoree of the 2024 General Session.
“Branch Lotspeich’s vision to create rescue tubes and distribute them globally has significantly reduced drowning deaths and averted tragedies,” said Majority Leader Nadine K. Nakamura (District 15) of the Kaua‘i legislative team. “His actions exemplify those of a hero in our community.”
With roots in his experience as a lifeguard, Lotspeich, the founding member with the late John Gillen, and current acting Executive Director of the Rescue Tube Foundation, has played a pivotal role in the creation of Public Access Rescue Tubes and stations that have saved up to 200 lives and prevented an estimated 30 drownings, the Hawai‘i House of Representatives said in a statement.
The 52-inch long bright yellow rescue flotation device can hold up to three people for multiple hours, are user friendly with picture descriptions, and are numbered to ensure quick identification of the response location during emergencies, said the Hale o na Luna Maka‘ainana.
Under Lotspeich’s leadership, the first rescue tubes were installed more than 14 years ago on Kaua‘i with the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay. Since then, the Rescue Tube Foundation has expanded to include more than 600 stations across Hawai‘i’s beaches, the United States mainland, and Canada.
“Branch Lotspeich leads by example, and is directly involved in the assembly and creation of the rescue tube stations at the Foundation’s shop in Kilauea,” said Rep. Luke Evslin (District 16) of the Kaua‘i legislative team.
“The rescue tubes are designed to be user-friendly and are numbered so that first responders can locate exactly where the distressed caller is. This feature is in collaboration with Dr. Monty Downs of the Kaua‘i Water Safety Task Force and IT Kaua‘i to create a database of Global Positioning System locations of the rescue tubes.”
During January, 2024, the city and County of Honolulu, the Hawai‘i Kai Lions Club, and the Rotary Club of Honolulu partnered with Lotspeich to install 20 rescue tubes along 20 miles of O‘ahu’s southern and windward shores, from Kawaikui Beach Park in ‘Aina Haina to Kailua Beach Park.
This expansion of rescue tube stations has already proven successful with reports of at least one life saved when a 20-year-old man in distress at China Walls was rescued with minor injuries.
“This is one of many instances where the rescue tubes have saved endangered swimmers,” said Rep. Dee Morikawa (District 17) of the Kaua‘i legislative team. “We encourage more communities to be proactive and place Public Access Flotation Devicess on their beaches and waterways. If it prevents even a single drowning, the effort is undeniably worth it.”
Source: The Garden Island