January 13, 2018 Hawaiian officials say a ballistic missile alert sent out to residents of the state early Saturday morning was a false alarm.
Hawaii residents began posting screenshots of alerts received on their cellphones just after 8 a.m. local time reading:
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
At 8:45 a.m. residents of Hawaii received a second notice advising that the first warning had been a false alarm.
“There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii,” and “Repeat. False Alarm.”
In July, 2017, Hawaiian officials introduced a new awareness campaign to prepare residents in case North Korea launches a missile at the island state. The move came after both United States and South Korean officials concluded a projectile launched on the Fourth of July was a long-range missile that would arrive in 20 minutes, leaving 12 to 15 minutes for warnings and evacuations. Hawaii’s Emergency Manangement Agency Director, Vern T. Miyagi said the awareness campaign aims to assemble an evacuation plan for civilians on the island, in order to prepare for a potential intercontinental ballistic missile attack.
After 9/11, state and local governments across America began dusting off emergency preparedness plans to find them outdated or non-existent. In 2003, the federal government formally established the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a cabinet level agency to address future large-scale terrorist attacks directed from abroad, while enhancing federal, state, and local government agencies ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters in the homeland.
Emergency and disaster plans on paper cannot measure preparedness. Emergency response drills and first responder training and exercises are the closest measure of preparedness — other than actual events. Saturday morning’s mistaken ballistic missile alert could prevent future loss of life.
Cynthia Hodges holds a M.A. in Political Science from NEIU in Chicago, Illinois and a Post-Grad Professional Certificate in Disaster and Terrorism Management from University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill. In addition to a successful writing career, Cynthia is in the process of writing a book on the role of private security guards as first responders in the post 9/11 America. "My career has been a balance of security and education, and my passion for Homeland Security while protecting individual's Constitutional rights has grown as a result of the two."