Kauai Rescue Team Honored for Saving 121 Trapped Hikers

Aug. 24--A Kauai Fire Department rescue team was recently recognized at the 2014 International Association of Fire Chiefs Conference in Dallas for saving more 100 stranded hikers in Kalalau Valley in April.

Firefighters Bryan Doo, Aaron Hawthorne, Adam Hussey, Capt. Gordon Tamura and Air 1 rescue pilot Clifton Cates were honored with the International Association of Fire Chiefs/Motorola Solutions' Benjamin Franklin Fire Service Award for Valor for rescuing 121 hikers.

The award honors firefighters for their dedication to their duty in saving lives.

On April 6, the rescue team responded to hikers trapped by raging stream waters in Hanakapiai. That evening the crew rescued nearly two dozen hikers who could not cross the stream due to dangerous conditions. The crew resumed their effort the following day, airlifting hikers out of the valley, three to four at a time.

The team was also recently lauded by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and the Kauai Fire Commission.

The rescue at Hanakapiai marks the second time the fire department has been honored with the Benjamin Franklin Fire Service Award. In 2010, a rescue team was recognized for saving two men involved in an ultralight aircraft crash in Hanapepe Valley in August 2009. The team battled strong wind and heavy rain conditions during the rescue.

During the 2014 IAFC conference earlier this month, Kauai Fire Chief Robert Westerman was awarded with the Ben Franklin Leadership Award. "It is an honor to lead a department with such high-caliber employees," Westerman said in a news release issued by the fire department.

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