Kaua‘i County Council Wants Negligent Individuals to Pay for their Rescues

Jul 28, 2015

Credit Andrew Turner / Flickr

The Kauai County Council recently passed a bill requiring negligent adventurers to pay for their rescues. But determining what costs to recover and what sorts of rescues would be included was not so easy.  We get details from HPR contributor Scott Giarman on Kauai.

The bill targets negligent individuals who find themselves in need of rescue. It also aligns the definition of negligence with that used in the rest of the state.  The original bill sponsored by former firefighter Mason Chock had specified that charges would be made for fuel used by the County’s Air-1 rescue helicopter, equipment damage and overtime pay. 

But Kauai County Fire Chief Robert Westerman says only a small portion of his department's more than 400 annual rescues involve the helicopter.  A revised version of the bill covers cases where a firefighter is injured during a rescue, including medical bills and time away from work.

Another issue involved who determines whether a rescued person exhibited in the words of the bill, “actions or omissions that constitute an intentional disregard for safety."  Chief Westerman said the Fire Department would make that call, in coordination with the County Attorney’s office and others in the administration.  Chief Westerman also pointed out that the cost that originally prompted the bill – helicopter fuel – might be the one charge that is not collectable.  He said the Department was looking into whether accepting money for a County helicopter rescue might be a violation of the County’s Air-1Rescue helicopter’s FAA license. They expect a response from the FAA soon, before the bill becomes law.