Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Kauai fire chief
wants more money
for Air-1 rescues

By Anthony Sommer
Kauai correspondent


LIHUE -- The Kauai Fire Department is asking the county to almost double its budget for helicopter rescues -- and says even that probably won't be enough.

A dramatic increase in tourism over the past two years and the popularity of hiking and camping in remote areas caused a sharp increase in the number of calls for helicopter rescues, Fire Chief David Sproat told the Kauai County Council yesterday at a budget briefing.

The fire department is asking its $25,000 budget for helicopter operations be increased to $45,000. Last year the department spent $50,000 on helicopter rescues and it expects to exceed that figure during the current fiscal year, Sproat said. The shortfall has been made up by cutting other department spending, he said.

A private company, Island Air, supplies the helicopter for emergency operations. The company, which operates as Air-1 when flying rescue missions, is the only one on Kauai with a helicopter and crew certified and equipped for long-line and sling-load operations and flying with night vision goggles, Sproat said.

Fire department rescue specialists train regularly with Island Air and its bright red Hughes helicopter is used to carry water to virtually every brush fire on the island.

The county has no formal contract with Island Air and has offered to hire other companies, but none has shown any interest, Sproat said.

The Kauai Fire Department has been averaging several helicopter rescues every week. Friday night, Island Air and a fire rescue crew used night vision goggles and a long line to pick up a woman injured in a horseback riding accident in mountainous terrain.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin