Full-scale disaster exercise involves government, military, civilian participation

State Emergency Operating Center, Diamond Head

Full-scale exercises are being held all week to ensure Hawaii is prepared in the event of a disaster.

Vigilant Guard/Makani Pahili 2015 (VG/MP15) is hosted by the Hawaii National Guard and is designed to improve collaboration among the state, federal, regional, local, civilian and military partners during domestic emergencies and catastrophic events.

The eight-day exercise began on June 1 at multiple locations on four islands with more than 2,200 participants. Four other states (Utah, Nevada, California and Oregon) and Guam are also participating.

“That’s important because we need to get the organizations working together, understanding each other’s capabilities before we get to a natural disaster,” Brig. Gen. Bruce Oliveira, commander, Hawaii Army National Guard. “It’s this kind of exercise and training that we look forward to because that equals to the preparedness for our organizations to respond and to support and secure the state of Hawaii.”

Exercise simulates activation of alternate port at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

An exercise, known as the Hawaii Alternate Port Concept exercise, took place Friday at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, one of several field training locations. It simulates the activation of the alternate port at Joint Base.

The Port of Honolulu serves as the hub for cargo distribution throughout the State of Hawaii with more than 80 percent of the State’s consumable goods transported through the harbor. The Alternate Port initiative was developed to address this vulnerability and creates an alternate site for cargo operations to provide essential emergency supplies to the state.

A new mobile crane was used to offload cargo, a necessary tool in the event Honolulu Harbor is rendered unusable.

“This alternate port is a way to get stuff moving again in Hawaii, get us food back on the table, get some of the needed recovery goods back in and really provide resiliency for the entire community,” said Capt. Shannon Gilreath, Coast Guard Honolulu Sector commander. “This is a way we can move some cargo. It doesn’t replace the entire port, but it gives us some momentum. It gives us about 15 to 20 percent of what we currently have to be able to move stuff in and that’s critical to us long-term.”

The $3 million crane was paid for with money from a port security grant program.

“Hawaii is isolated. It’s an island state. It presents a lot of challenges. If you were to have a natural disaster in the continental United States, you could have support from other forces and organizations just driving across the border to assist,” Oliveira said. “Here in Hawaii, we depend primarily and initially with what we have here, and then it will take a couple of days before we actually see other forces coming in.”

Kauai conducts full-scale search and rescue exercise

Also on Friday, a full-scale search and rescue exercise was conducted on Kauai at the Hanapepe Armory.

Officials asked for the public’s cooperation by staying clear of any obvious or marked areas as well as exercise-related vehicles, equipment and personnel.

“I would like to thank the participating agencies for their time, effort and commitment to keeping Kauai safe,” said Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. “The skills that are practiced and lessons learned during the exercises will benefit first responders, residents and visitors alike.”

Mass casualty and decontamination exercise at The Queen’s Medical Center – West Oahu

Then on Saturday, June 6, The Queen’s Medical Center – West Oahu is hosting a mass casualty and decontamination exercise.

The exercise will simulate a building collapse at Campbell Industrial Park resulting in 30 (20 live and 10 mannequin) simulated casualties.

“We are pleased to be partnering with the Hawaii National Guard in its efforts to improve statewide disaster planning and emergency preparedness,” said Susan Murray, senior vice president for the West Oahu region and COO of The Queen’s Medical Center – West Oahu. “This collaboration will benefit our West Oahu community and we are proud to continue to engage with other community partners in ways that bring value to our friends, family and neighbors.”

“We really want to stress out the organizations and really get them to think and get to that point where we can really learn as much as we can from putting all these missions together in one complex scenario,” Oliveira said.

Officials said most of the exercises won’t be visible to the general public, except for some community-involved exercises like that at The Queen’s Medical Center – West Oahu or in Waimanalo.

“(A) request for assistance will go up through the state Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and then come down to the Hawaii National Guard and we will send out an element such as our engineers to clear that debris, so you’ll see a small part of that,” Oliveira explained.

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