Hawai’i’s hotel industry hosted an emergency preparedness workshop today as a follow-up to the state’s false missile alert earlier this year. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
The Hawai’i Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association had a Nuclear Attack Plan in place before the False Ballistic Missile Alert January 13.. But, not all
properties were familiar with the plan and few had practiced the procedures. Association president, Jerry Dolak, says if any attack warning is issued -- outdoor sirens, broadcast or smart phone messages or even the white flash of light from a nuclear blast, don’t look at the light or wait for confirmation. Take immediate action.
“You want to make a P-A announcement but do not pull a fire alarm because the fire alarm will draw people out of the building, outside, which is the exact opposite of what we want. So, what you’ll need to do is a P-A announcement directing them to where to go. And this will save you a lot of face-to-face communication if you can tell them where to go over the P-A system.”
Dolak says preparation is the key. Determine shelter in place areas on or nearby the property, preferably in stairwells or basements with concrete walls. Next, brief employees on their location and pre-position at least 14 days of supplies, food and water. The same principles apply to a family plan. City Department of Emergency Management Disaster Preparedness Officer, Crystal Van Beelen, says stay out of the car and stick to the plan.
“We see time and time again when we do our evacuation drills with tsunamis,that the parents try to grab the kids out of the evacuation process. That hinders the process of the kids evacuating in time. If they drill without any hindrance, without anyone interfering, they can evacuate within 15 minutes. And, as parents, if you’re on that road trying to get to your children, and you don’t get there, they’re not going to have a parent to go home to.”
The City and County is working with the state to provide the most accurate disaster alert information to the public. But, Honolulu Department of Emergency Management director, Mel Kaku, says hotels and guest services must develop their own emergency procedures and not rely too heavily on smart phone technology.
“Now we’re doing multi-media. Not only cell phones but immediately when we transition to any activation, we go automatically to our radio system. We drop off our cell system because we can’t depend on it. So, communications is key. Whatever response that you have will be time-sensitive and critical.”
Hawai’i Lodging and Tourism Association president and CEO, Mufi Hannemann, says he plans to ask the 700 members to push for County funding and step up statewide efforts.
“We’re going to advise, encourage, compel, cajole, to ensure that all our properties have an updated emergency management plan. I think we’re pretty good in dealing with tsunamis, hurricanes, storms and the like, but this is a new phenomenon that we’re dealing with. Secondly, my plan is to try to take this on the road. We also have Maui, Kaua’i, we have the Big Island, Lana’i and Moloka’i.”
For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.