Fire drills, in-flight safety presentations, and even the sometimes-ridiculous warning labels on household appliances, are all an important part of staying safe and prepared in the face of accident and disaster. However, for earthquakes, tornadoes, and disasters on a more catastrophic scale, being prepared takes more than just a 20-minute safety presentation and reading 5 step diagrams leading to the exit.
The Hawaii National guard has taken this to heart, orchestrating the largest disaster preparedness exercise in the history of the state. Over 2000 participants from military, government, and civilian organizations in multiple states, will take part in helicopter drills, chemical spills, cyber attacks, and mass casualty exercises. The goal of the event is to not only to simulate the disaster, but also to help different organizations get used to working together while gaining a better understanding of each other’s capabilities.
Called Vigilant Guard/Makani Pahili 2015, the event will incorporate existing coast guard and state preparedness training into one massive drill that will run through an entire week. Along with participants from Utah, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Guam, there will be observers present from a handful of different Asia-Pacific nations.
If a disaster of this scale were to occur within the United States, aid efforts could be quickly mobilized from bordering states to help the afflicted region. Due to Hawaii’s isolated location, it could be several days before aid from neighboring states and nations could reach the island chain. The drill envisions a massive and destructive hurricane tearing through the region, and if such a disaster were to occur, coordination at the level the exercise hopes to achieve would be necessary for the Hawaiian Islands to quickly and effectively administer aid and recover.
The event will hopefully serve as a future example to disaster preparedness organizations across the globe, providing an example of what large scale multinational cooperation can look like in the face of catastrophe.