Hawaii official believed threat was real and triggered ballistic missile alert

31 January, 2018, 10:49 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • Cars drive past a highway sign that says

On the day the alert was sent out, other staff said the employee responsible "felt really bad". But the employee was "counseled" and given on-the-spot corrections by supervisors.

"The day-shift warning officer seated at the alert origination terminal, however, reported to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency after the event their belief that this was a real emergency, so they clicked "yes" to transmit the alert", the report stated.

The US commander-in-chief golfing when people think they're in the midst of a nuclear crisis was just one of a series of embarrassments that followed the drill. The federal agency, which regulates the nation's airwaves and sets standards for such emergency alerts, criticized the state's delay in correcting it. It took almost 40 minutes to retract it.

The chief of Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency, Vern Miyagi, also resigned following the release of the preliminary report, accepting "full responsibility" for the terrifying ordeal. His name has not been revealed. A second agency worker quit before disciplinary action was taken and another was being suspended without pay, Logan said in announcing results of an internal investigation. Gen. Joe Logan and Retired Brig. "Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill" was the message sent out to everyone in Hawaii.

Although other emergency management officials in Hawaii understood that the state was conducting an internal drill at the time, the employee who sent the alert said in a written statement that he or she had believed it was an actual emergency.

The FCC has pointed out that there was a "lack of preparation" on how to deal with a false alarm and that there were "inadequate safeguards" for false alerts.

"There is no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii - this is a drill", one employee at the center later broadcast to counties on a warning system, according to the timeline.

The midnight shift supervisor started the drill by playing a recording that deviated from the agency's drill script because it incorrectly included the words, "This is not a drill".

Compounding the issue was that the state Emergency Management Agency had no prepared message for a false alarm.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and staff discussed the January 13 event in a preliminary report during this morning's commission meeting in Washington, D.C. While a final report has yet to be issued, their initial probe has revealed that poor planning, inadequate technology and a series of errors from multiple people contributed to and exacerbated the button pusher's mistake. The false alert wasn't corrected for 38 minutes. As part of the routine training protocol, the shift supervisor played a tape recording with a message that repeated the word exercise three times along with the words, this is not a drill. However, because it actually was a drill, this recording also had the phrase "exercise, exercise, exercise" at the beginning and end.

It ended with the phrase: "Exercise, exercise, exercise".

The local authority in the Pacific US State of Hawaii apologized for the false emergency alert, which had caused panic cross the islands and on social media platforms. Later, another employee took over the computer and sent the correction because the worker "seemed confused".

Hawaiian officials had previously blamed the snafu on an employee who pushed the "wrong button".

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency officials work at the department's command centre in Honolulu on December 1, 2017. Its final report will be released in due course.


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