Hawaii presents a number of challenges unique to this special state. In addition to being a completely isolated state deep in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii also rests upon a very active seismic area. Some of the islands in the Hawaiian archipelago are volcanically active and have continuing lava flows. These circumstances make Hawaii a vulnerable to natural disasters, which must be prepared for without the assistance of neighboring states.
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In order to protect the residents of Hawaii, the state government has implemented a highly active warning system that is operated by Hawaii State Civil Defense (HSCD). The HSCD conducts monthly tests of statewide siren warning systems that help raise public awareness of potential threats and encourages residents to make preparations in case evacuation is necessary. HSCD also has a robust system in place for disaster recovery which offers individual and community assistance following a disaster. The HSCD also offers Hawaiians training that has been modeled on federal disaster preparedness courses.
Training and Requirements for Emergency Management Careers in Hawaii
Education and General Requirements – A wide variety of public and private organizations employ emergency management professionals in Hawaii, and these emergency management jobs come with dozens of titles. A recent posting by the Hawaii state government listed Chief Special Investigator in the emergency management department with the following requirements:
- Possession of a bachelor’s degree
- At least four and a half years of experience
- Ability to work with state, federal and local agencies
- Write effective and concise reports
- Superior oral communication skills
- Interviewing methods and procedures
- Investigation of suspicious behavior
A similar job as an emergency management planner stipulated applicants should have familiarity with the National Incident Management System and the Integrated Planning System.
Certification – Among the most important credentials for emergency management jobs in Hawaii are certifications from national and local organizations. The Emergency Management Institute is a federal agency that sponsors emergency management courses in Hawaii in the following fields:
- Master Trainer Program
- EMI School Program
- Master Exercise Practitioner Program
- Disaster Field Training Operations
- Emergency Management Professional Program
- Integrated Emergency Management Course
Hawaii also offers emergency management classes from the Department of Homeland Security and the American Red Cross. The Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program is a valuable metric for determining readiness of state agencies for natural or terrorist incidents. The Red Cross Disaster Response Courses provide critical training for the general public to provide assistance to victims.
A History of Natural Disasters in Hawaii
Hawaii is susceptible to a wide range of disasters including heavy rains, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes. Among the most recent of these was a period of heavy rains in 2012 that resulted in rockslides and minor flooding, leading to the evacuation of dozens of homes. An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.8 struck Chile in 2010, causing a tsunami that eventually reached Hawaii. In 1960 a 9.5 earthquake from the same origin resulted in a tsunami with 35-foot waves killing 61 Hawaiians and producing $75 million in damages.