The Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) responded to four 911 calls on Sunday, May 16, 2021 for hikers needing to be rescued in the mountains. To perform these rescues safely and efficiently, the HFD committed aircraft support, technical rescue capabilities, and firefighting personnel to perform the search, airlift extraction, and medical assessment tasks. The following are descriptions of the four emergency incidents:
Kaau Crater Trail- Lost Hikers
The HFD received a 911 call at 7:25 p.m. for lost hikers on the Kaau Crater Trail in Palolo. Four units staffed with 12 personnel responded. Since Air 3 was already airborne returning from another call with rescue specialists onboard, he arrived first at scene and made visual contact with the three hikers at 7:37 p.m. After preparing for an airlift extraction, rescue specialists were inserted by air to package the hikers resulting in patient contact at 8:00 p.m. Three males, ages 20, 25, and 27, were hiking on the trail since 10:30 a.m while one of them became dehydrated and could not continue down the trail. All three hikers were airlifted individually to the landing zone located nearby at the Palolo District Park where the hiker experiencing dehydration signs was treated by the awaiting EMS unit at 8:20 p.m. The other two hikers did not need medical care.
Ehukai Pillbox Trail- Lost Hiker
The HFD received a 911 call at 6:57 p.m. for a lost hiker on the Ehukai Pillbox Trail near the Sunset Beach Elementary school. Five units staffed with 16 personnel responded. The first firefighters arrived at Makana Road to access the trail through the residential area at 7:08 p.m. and ascended the trail by foot to begin a ground search. A short time later, firefighters made contact with the lost hiker at 7:24 p.m. Apparently, a 51 year old male was hiking on the trail for almost four hours and lost his way while descending the trail. After determining there were no life-threatening injuries, the hiker descended the trail on foot with the assistance of the HFD and exited safely at 7:57 p.m.
Ehukai Pillbox Trail- Lost Hikers
The HFD received a 911 call at 5:01 p.m. for lost hikers on the Ehukai Pillbox Trail near the Sunset Beach Elementary school. Five units staffed with 16 personnel responded. The first firefighters arrived at the scene near the trailhead at 5:14 p.m. and ascended the trail by foot. A short time later, one rescue specialist was inserted by air to join them in the ground search resulting in patient contact at 5:57 p.m. Apparently, a 25 year old male and 24 year old female were hiking on the trail for about one hour, reached the pillbox, and got lost on the way down the trail. Both were uninjured and airlifted to the landing zone located nearby at the Sunset Beach Elementary school at approximately 6:17 p.m.
Maili Pillbox- Hiker in Distress
The HFD received a 911 call at 11:16 a.m. for a hiker in distress on the Maili Pillbox Trail. Five resource units staffed with 13 personnel responded. The first firefighters arrived at Kaukama Street at 11:23 a.m. to access the trail. They ascended up the trail by foot and made patient contact at 11:37 a.m. Apparently, a 22-year old female, experienced numbness in her hands and mouth while hiking. Fortunately, an off-duty nurse, also hiking on the trail, was able to offer assistance to her prior to HFD contact. After determining there were no life-threatening injuries, the hiker descended the trail on foot with the assistance of the HFD. Patient care was transferred to the EMS at 12:02 p.m. Three others in her party also exited the trail on foot and unassisted.
Hiker Safety Tips
- Know your physical abilities and limitations and select trails that can be enjoyed safely.
- Always let others know where you plan to hike and what time you expect to return.
- If you call 911 to be rescued in the mountains, please stay in the same area so the rescuers can find you based on your last known geo-location coordinates.