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Human Error Caused Ballistic Missile False Alarm

Wayne Yoshioka

EMA administrator, Vern Miyagi

Governor David Ige confirmed Saturday during a news conference that the emergency alert system warning of an imminent ballistic missile attack on Hawai’i was due to human error.  He said the system operator clicked “actual” instead of “test” and triggered a statewide warning.   The Governor also confirmed it took 38 minutes to issue a cancellation notice because it had to be done manually.

“We didn’t have a message scripted that said this is a false alarm.  You know, we were not prepared for the fact that an alert was issued that was incorrect.  So, we have built that now and so, clearly, just as there’s a button to initiate the alerts, there now is a button to initiate the cancellation.”

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
EMA administrator, Vern Miyagi, said the false alarm was caused by human errot

Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency administrator, Vern Miyagi, says, in the future, there will be two operators instead of a single individual to initiate the tests or actual alert.

“I apologize for this, this is my responsibility and this is my team.  This is not going to happen again, as the governor said.  And I’m gonna work with the cancellation process and the notification process to be much better.  Please keep in mind, that again, the threat is there; this comes out and you’re gonna have only 12 to 13 minutes for the actual event and please take this to heart.  Again, I apologize for what’s happened.

Miyagi says all testing is suspended until further notice and all staff, who work 24/7 will be re-trained.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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