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Promotion of Ocean Safety Mobile Responders Includes First Wahine Lifeguard Supervisor In More Than 100 Years

February 22, 2023

HONOLULU — A promotion ceremony Wednesday at Paki Hale near Kapi`olani Park was significant for two reasons for the city’s Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division.  The promotion of four new Lieutenants ,who will serve as mobile responders, marks the completion of the first phase of growth in the division toward “extended hours” coverage on O`ahu beaches.  It also marks the first time a woman will serve permanently in a supervisor capacity in the 106-year old city’s lifeguard service, long regarded as one of the best open ocean life-saving organizations.

“We are thrilled to have a chance to move toward extending hours at our towers,” says Ocean Safety Chief John Titchen, “now that we have filled our four remaining mobile responder positions. We are also of course, immensely proud to see the first wahine supervisor in our ranks.”

Mayor Rick Blangiardi congratulated the four new Lieutenants, Lt. Dennis Coglietta, Lt. Blake Caporoz, Lt. Kavan Okumura — all of whom cover south shore beaches and Lt. Chelsea Kahalepauole-Bizik, who will serve on the Windward Side.  All four have been fulfilling Lieutenant duties after moving into the rank officially Dec. 12, serving as mobile incident commanders in trucks while supervising several towers.

Kahalepauole-Bizik who was raised in Kailua and still lives on the Windwardside, is the first female in the city’s 106 year history of lifeguarding to be promoted to the lieutenant position. Kahalepauole-Bizik joined Ocean Safety in 2011, and has worked in East Honolulu, including the towers at Sandy Beach and Makapu`u.  After more than a decade of lifeguarding, and decades of surfing and competitive paddling, Kahalepauole-Bizik is looking forward to the next chapter of her lifeguarding career. 

“I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of the late Rell Sunn and Pua Mokuau and will do my best to live up to their legacies, while protecting our beachgoers and supporting our men and women on the beach,” said Kahalepauole-Bizik.

Ocean Safety’s mobile response coverage was the first phase in a significant push to improve lifeguard service hours — traditionally 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for the last 50 years — to a schedule that covers early and late hours on the island’s beaches.  The new mobile responders work from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on four 10-hour shifts a week, ensuring at least 16 teams are working those hours around the island every day, 365 days a week.

The Blangiardi administration is working to push the next phase of placing the island’s 41 towers and tower guards on an identical “4-10s” schedule, with service from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Ocean Safety is hoping to see this implemented by summer 2023.  The third and final phase for “extended hours” will put some special duty rescue teams on a longer schedule to cover all daylight hours.

Chelsea Kahalepauole-Bizik, 31, born and raised in Kailua where she graduated from Kalaheo High School. She began her career with the City and County of Honolulu’s Ocean Safety Division in 2011. Along with working on the beach, Kahalepauole-Bizik has worked in the Communications Center as a dispatcher. When she isn’t working, Kahalepauole-Bizik is paddling and spending her time with her son Wallace and ohana.

Blake Caporoz, 39, born and raised on the Waianae coast where he served as an Ocean Safety lifeguard for 18 years. Caporoz now serves and protects his community in the Waikiki and Ala Moana areas. As a 13-year old he participated in the city’s popular J.R. Lifeguard Program and knew then he wanted to be a city lifeguard.   

Dennis Coglietta, 43, borm and raised in Long Island, New York where he started his career as a lifeguard at Jones Beach in 1997. After moving to Honolulu. Coglietta joined Honolulu Ocean Safety in 2003 and currently works in Waikiki. When he is not working, Coglietta spends time with his wife and two sons at the beach.

Kavan Okumura, 56, born and raised on O’ahu. Started with Honolulu Ocean Safety in 1990, and was awarded Department Employee of the Year Award twice. Okumura is trained as a jet ski operator, an emergency medical dispatcher and is currently head of the lifeguard’s support services section.