That Morning in Paradise
by: Dr. Constancio Paranal III
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ELIZABETH BROCKWAY/THE DAILY BEAST
An almost preempted beautiful morning in paradise.
In the morning of January 13th, Saturday, Hawai’i residents were woken up by an eerie message on their phones that says, “ Emergency Alert. Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.” The alert generated panic amongst residents that not only streets where cleared but emergency lines were all busy. Fortunately, through vigilant internet watchers, the information trickled through. Eventually, a message sourced from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency saying it was a false alarm and that there is no ballistic missile headed to the state.
Amidst the craziness, a few things became clear.
- Evaluate your emergency preparedness level. With the heightened tension with North Korea, the possibility of this event happening should not be dismissed. While officials, including Governor David Ige believe that the possibility of the event is “very very low” and “very unlikely” the “very” slight indication suggests that at the very least we are not prepared. We need to be informed of where to go, what to do, and what to have.
- Check social media for information with caution. Residents of Hawai’i took some time to digest the information and went straight to social media to share and/or seek information. TV news were down and phones lines were busy. The slew of status updates asking confirmation about the alert flooded the feeds of almost any social media platform. Yet, the official response came too late – 30 minutes later. This is a wake-up call for officials and private citizens alike that we need to have a better system in-place to disseminate and seek information.
- Update systems for handling emergencies of such nature. It is disconcerting that a very sensitive matter such as sending a “ballistic threat message” was done in error. It makes us question how government offices responsible for protecting and safeguarding the residents by communicating sensitive information are not able to do their job properly. This should be a wake-up call to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to put proper systems in place to make sure that minute errors with massive implications do not happen.
- Follow your instinct. While the event seems surreal and rather hard to believe, we must follow our instincts. However, we must also remain calm and remain resolute. Panicking will not do us nor our neighbors good.
- Prepare a nuclear emergency kit ready. In case it happens, it is important to know what we can do to be prepared. In the event of a nuclear attack, it is possible that power outages will occur rendering mobile phones useless. Make sure you have battery operated radio and extra batteries as well as food and water supply enough to last for at least 15 days. For more information on nuclear preparedness, please visit the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
While we are fortunate that the scare was indeed a false alarm, it is unfortunate that our safety measures and the people responsible are not up-to-par. But more importantly, it is unfortunate that our citizens and let alone our kids have to wake-up to fear and despair and force themselves to understand why human-induced cruelty and hate exist. Unconscionably, it is unfortunate that as progressive our world has been, we still allow the scars of history to continue to haunt us.
In between the beautiful sunrises and breathtaking sunsets, the rainbows will continue to paint the sky. Fortunately, Hawai’i is not going anywhere.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of JAIMS. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of JAIMS.