On Sunday, August 22, 2021, the Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) received a 911 call at 4:20 p.m. for a distressed hiker on the Moanalua Middle Ridge Trail. Six resource units, staffed with 17 personnel, responded to the emergency call. The first fire fighters arrived at 4:31 p.m. to secure a landing zone for Air 1 at the Moanalua Valley Neighborhood Park and made contact with the 911 caller. The 911 caller explained that he placed the call for help on behalf of the distressed 23-year-old-female, who was hiking for approximately one and one half hours and experiencing signs of dehydration and fatigue. Because of where she was on the trail, the cell phone reception was poor, contributing to an unreliable geolocation of coordinates of where she was at.
Because it was not known where she was at, Air 1 arrived at the landing zone to pick up two rescue specialists and equipment for an aerial search. Fortunately, the distressed hiker was able to move to an open area so her cell phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) could provide better coordinates of her location with a confidence of nine meters. Shortly after receiving her last known coordinates, Air 1 inserted a rescue specialist onto the trail to begin a ground search. A short time later, the distressed hiker was found, contact was made, and a medical assessment was performed. Because she was able to continue with assistance and was close by to the trailhead, the rescue specialists assisted her out on foot and transferred patient care to the awaiting Emergency Medical Services unit at the Moanalua Valley Neighborhood Park at 5:27 p.m. Apparently, the distressed hiker refused any medical attention. All HFD personnel were accounted for with no reports of injuries.
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.