Photos by DJ Struntz


On Thursday morning, just hours before the Eddie Aikau opening ceremony, a group of big-wave riders from across the globe gathered on Kohl Christensen's gorgeous Kaukonahua farm to learn CPR. About a quarter of the Eddie invitees and alternates attended, including Mark Healey, Ramon Navarro, Jamie Sterling, Danilo Couto and Kohl Christensen himself. But among this colossal group of names the one that stole the show was our teacher, Pamela Foster.

And although these men have seen a lot in their time, they'd probably never seen a 5'2'' registered nurse get all Al Pacino from Any Given Sunday on their asses over safety. She was intense, at one point putting Healey on blast for "killing himself with the energy drink" he had in his hand. Shit got real, real quick. But Pam was there to teach us what she knows — and as a nurse — what she knows is saving lives. And with last year's passing of Noel Robinson and Sion Milosky on everyone's minds, Pam had an attentive audience as she taught everyone proper CPR.

A number of valid questions relative to big-wave surfing were raised. Like: If you're a five-minute Jet Ski ride from shore and your friend's not breathing, do you give him CPR on the Ski or risk those five minutes to get him to shore? The answer: If the CPR is half-assed on the Ski, risk the time to get him to shore to perform proper chest compressions.

And: How hard can you push on the chest? The answer: Real hard. In fact, it's better to break ribs or crack a sternum pushing on that heart then to not break a rib and not push the heart.

And so a group of the world's most fearless men knelt in a circle, pumping the chests of eight breathless dummy torsos. Déjà vu for some, since most of these men have already performed the same maneuver on actual humans, many of them their own friends.

At the end of the session Nurse Pam gave us all pats on the backs and sent us to the Bay with three main points. If someone's not breathing from drowning or cardiac arrest:

1. Call 911

2. Ask if AED is available (defibrillators)

3. Begin chest compressions and don't stop (push hard, push fast)

One of those skills you never want to use.

Special thanks to Pamela Foster, R.N. and Chelsea Loui of the Hawaii Heart Foundation.