By U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs OfficeSeptember 23, 2013
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii -- Emergencies affect hundreds of people every year.
One may hit Army Hawaii and affect you and your family.
When emergencies occur, military and civilian organizations respond, but it takes time to mobilize, and they focus on the most critical needs first.
As September marks the 10th annual National Preparedness Month, why should this observance be important to the Soldiers, civilians and families stationed in Hawaii, especially after so much information was put out this year for hurricane season preparedness?
"Hawaii is different than any other duty station you've been at before," said Joe Barker, installation management emergency officer for the garrison. "You're surrounded by the Pacific Ocean."
Before summer, Barker stressed preparedness for hurricanes, but Soldiers, DA civilians and family members should also anticipate heavy rains during the winter months that could bring flooding or mudslides, causing threat to life and damage to property. The same preparedness works for natural disasters, mass casualties, biological and chemical threats, radiation emergencies and terrorist attacks.
"The garrison conducted several real-world preparations. Last October, we had a tsunami, two domestic threats and two bomb threats," said Barker. "The garrison conducted exercises to prepare our law enforcement and first responders. We conducted all four of our school evacuation drills, moving more than 1,000 children to an evacuation site at least a quarter mile away."
Additionally, the garrison conducted hurricane exercise Makani Pahili and a mass casualty evacuation drill partnered with the Navy, Tripler Army Medical Center, and local and federal emergency responders, added Barker.
National Preparedness Month is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. One goal of DHS is to educate the public about how to prepare for emergencies.
The Army joined DHS and FEMA in "America's Prepareathon," a nationwide, community-based campaign for action to increase emergency preparedness and community resilience.
All Soldiers and civilians play a pivotal role in USAG-HI's collective preparedness, and everyone is encouraged to pledge to prepare using the Army Ready tenets: Be informed, make a plan, build a kit and get involved.
"Locally, the garrison is teaching our community about emergency management, and how important it is because of our location and the number of population. You will not be able to cope with a disaster, whether it is natural or manmade, if you are not prepared," Barker said. "Preparedness has to start with the people."
When disaster strikes, emergency responders address the most critical needs and may not be able to get to an area until it is deemed safe. While they work on behalf of the entire community, everyone has a responsibility to ensure their family's well-being during times of crisis. Preparedness meets that challenge.