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About the Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division
Ocean Safety staffs 41 towers around Oʻahu and patrols with trucks, jet skis, UTVs, and ATVs to keep Oʻahu residents and visitors safe in some of the most dangerous beach conditions on the planet.
Ocean Safety partners effectively with many First Responder organizations.
The City Charter makes Ocean Safety the primary responder for emergencies arising on the beach and in the near shore waters of the island of Oʻahu.
Ocean Safety Operations Overview
The Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division provides ocean safety service for the island of Oʻahu, which features 227 miles of coastline. This service includes ocean rescue, prevention, emergency medical first response, dispatched mobile patrol, education, outreach, and injury prevention programs, all related to ocean safety.
The Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division is the primary responder for emergencies on the beaches and in the near shore waters for the island of Oʻahu. Near shore waters extend from the shore line to one (1) mile off shore, and this zone from the beach to one mile off shore is where the vast majority of ocean recreation activities take place. The Ocean Safety Division is divided into five operational districts:
- The South Shore (Pearl Harbor entrance to Maunalua Bay);
- The Windward Coast (Maunalua Bay to the Kailua side of the Mokapu Peninsula);
- The North Shore (from the Kāneʻohe side of the Mōkapu Peninsula around Kahuku Point all the way to Kaʻena Point);
- The Leeward Coast (from Kaʻena Point down to the Pearl Harbor channel entrance); and,
- Hanauma Bay.
Each of Ocean Safety's five operational districts is staffed by a Captain, three Lieutenants and between 21 and 60 Ocean Safety Officers, or Lifeguards. Each operational district uses both tower and mobile units to provide ocean safety service. With some small exceptions, most mobile units are currently staffed from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m and towers operate from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.. Tower-based service provides constant vigilance, shoreline and ocean prevention service, emergency medical first response, and ocean rescue at specific beach locations. Mobile units, some which are equipped with personal watercraft, are used to provide strategic periodic vigilance, shoreline and ocean prevention service (ocean prevention services are extended off shore by use of rescue craft), observed and dispatched emergency medical first response both on the shoreline, and in the waters and observed, and dispatched ocean rescue service (through 911 calls).
The Division is challenged with maintaining service levels by an ever-increasing amount of ocean activity. The increase in ocean and beach use over the past several decades have seen significant increases in off shore activity, particularly with the introduction of kayak rental operations, stand up paddling activities, and surf instruction operations. Ocean Safety has 235 full time lifeguards, 37 contract lifeguards (for a total force of about 272 "Guards"), and an operating budget of $19.8 million.