LizKauai

Personal blog of Liz from Kauai.

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Baha'i, Mom and Grandma, Fish Breeder, Sports Fan

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rotary Ocean Safety Humanitarian of the Year- Dr. Monty Downs

The Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay has selected Dr. Monty Downs to receive the Humanitarian Award in Ocean Safety for Kauai.
 
2009 Kauai Rotary Ocean Safety Humanitarian of the Year- Dr, Monty Downs, Assistant District Governor Laurie Yoshida, Dr. Jeff Goodman, President of the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay

Ocean Safety is everyone's business on the island of Kauai. Awareness of this great responsibility has been evolving from an unspoken understanding to a systematic program of training and education- especially  through a coordinated effort  involving the visitor industry and the Internet. The Rotary Clubs of Hanalei and Poipu Beach Worked with the County of Kauai to construct Ocean Safety facilities near the fire stations in those communities. The Rotary Club of Kapaa sponsored an Ocean Safety video that has promoted the theme, "When in Doubt, Don't go Out".

Here is Dr. Downs in his own words: 
"I became interested in ocean safety in 1991, after a particuarly wrenching day in the ER in which back-to-back bereaved [from drowning] families came in.  The nest day I started calling around to see if there was any work being done in this area, and in fact there was.  Pat Durkin was chair of the Kauai Water Safety Task Force, founded in 1998 in collaboration with the Health Dept. Injury Prevention program."

"I joined the task force-- and as sometimes happens, about 4 months later Pat said he needed to back off a bit and "volunteered" the chair to me. Gulp."


"My main talent is steadiness, way more so than brilliancy. The Task Force has indeed been a steady voice, and has had considerable success in bringing Kauai's nasty not-so-little ocean safety problem into the attention of the public and the politicians. Thanks to many people and mayors and councils and committees, a lot of things have been accomplished in these 17 years -- including increasing our Lifeguard force from 17 to 46 Lifeguards, vastly upgrading the equipment and communication that they use, and -- thanks to Rotary! -- 2 ocean safety buildings that add a huge amount to the program on a number of levels, not the least of which is the sense of pride and belonging that goes with "owning" an office."

"Despite all this, we had our worst number of drownings ever in 2008 (16) , which goes to show that giving your best isn't always good enough. Kauai's ocean is a rough and unforgiving environment if you're not prepared for what it has to say."

"We know, however, that there are people alive and families that are intact because of the efforts that have been made, and we will keep on giving our best, doing the things we know how to do, and staying open to new outside-the-box ideas."

For timely updates on beach conditions, visit: http://oceansafety.soest.hawaii.edu/?i=kauai


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