Honolulu Firefighters Rescue Ill Hiker From Diamond Head Trail

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Anna Gorin via Getty Images)

Early Monday morning (October 10), the Honolulu Fire Department received a call from Diamond Head, Hawaii’s most popular State Park. The caller explained that there was a sick hiker on the trail unable to complete the hike on his own and in need of rescue.

Just after 8:30 AM, the HFD dispatched four units, consisting of 12 members of personnel, to the Diamond Head Trail. Arriving 15 minutes later at 8:45 AM, the rescue team made their way up the trail on foot, reaching the ill hiker after about twenty minutes.

After assessing the hiker’s condition, first responders determined that the man would require an airlift, so they helped him to the nearby landing zone in the park, successfully transferring him to flight EMS shortly after 9 AM.

It’s unclear what type of illness the hiker was experiencing. The Honolulu Fire Department’s subsequent statement, however, suggests that it may have been an exhaustion-related incident.

“Prior to hiking, learn about the trail you intend to hike so you will know the route, where to start, and the degree of difficulty,” the HFD urged other adventurers. “When you get to the trail’s entrance, read and follow the signage. Be aware of any restricted or closed trails. Do not just rely on social media to get the information you need about a trail.”

The trail leading from the parking lot to the summit is only 0.8 miles in length. It does, however, include a 560-foot climb in elevation and includes uneven and steep areas on top of the sweltering Hawaiian heat. As the Honolulu Fire Department explained, even seemingly easy trails can be dangerous without the proper preparation.

On the other side of Oahu lies a similarly popular, now permanently closed trail called Haiku Stairs. Also known as the “Stairway to Heaven,” this trail has become a serious problem for the city of Honolulu, as it’s been the source of “rampant illegal trespassing” by thrill seekers for years.

The trail caused such an uproar among the community, in fact, that Honolulu City Council voted to destroy the Haiku Stairs late last year. “Due to rampant illegal trespassing, Haiku Stairs is a significant liability and expense for the city, and impacts the quality of life for nearby residents,” council member Ester Kiaaina said in a statement.

“The city has already spent nearly $1 million in taxpayer dollars to remodel the stairs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in security costs. Nearly two decades have passed and the various city agencies have not done much since then.”

The now-famous “Stairway to Heaven” was built in the 1940s to facilitate military communications between stations on the windward ridges. Unfortunately, the removal of the stairs will cost Honolulu about a million dollars, but the city no longer feels they’re worth the constant trespassing, hiker rescues, invasive species, and threat to public safety.