HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. It is during this time hurricanes have a high tendency to wreak havoc in the Central Pacific and are closely watched. With the season fast-approaching, hospitals, staff and the residents of Hawaii are planning for emergency situations.
Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) tested the hospital's Emergency Operations Center's (EOC) communication systems during a Joint Hurricane Exercise with the Hawaii Military Health System, Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management Coalition, U.S. Army Garrison - Hawaii, 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Air Force 15th Medical Group, and the U.S. Navy Health Clinic at Pearl Harbor, May 13-15.
John Orendorff, TAMC Emergency Manager, said, "Communications is consistently the biggest challenge in any emergency management situation. From events during '911' to simple exercises and real-world events when things change on the ground, numerous people need to be informed."
During the scenario, a hurricane hit the Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, area, generating a number of patients that needed medical care which allowed TAMC to test and evaluate the systems and personnel in place to support TAMC's readiness mission. The TAMC Commander, Col. Mary Krueger, authorized activation of the EOC to include liaisons from the U.S. Air Force 15th Medical Group and the U.S. Navy Health Clinic at Pearl Harbor, Health Net, and the Veterans Affairs.
The United States Indo-Pacific Command uses the Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness (TCCOR) to assess conditions when a tropical storm is 96 hours out from landfall. Once an emergency is determined, staff and command teams are informed and begin preparation for the storm's landfall.
"It's important for us to be ready for all hazards that can occur on Oahu, across the islands, including hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, fires, missile attacks, all of that we have to have an operating center that will bring people together to quickly determine what we need to do to support the population," said Orendorff.
Aside from activating the EOC, TAMC personnel also conducted medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) procedures to receive simulated patients, with air support from 25th Combat Aviation Brigade. "The purpose of our training not only helps us in our training, but allowed for the Tripler crew to get some 'cold load training' in, so they learn how to safely on-load and off-load patients onto the aircraft," explained Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen Wenner, UH60 pilot, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Emergency readiness also encompasses acts of staying informed about the storm or event, where to seek shelter, packing emergency kits, communicating to distant family and friends, set meeting places and strategize escape routes during flooding.
Across the State of Hawaii, government agencies and the media have teamed to develop the Emergency Alert System (EAS), to alert the public about disasters using radio and television.
The following are EAS broadcasters on the Island of Oahu with the frequencies used: KSSK-AM 590 khz and KRTR-FM 96.3 mhz.
To sign up for emergency notifications visit, https://hnl.info/alerts/login.php.
In addition, U.S. Army Hawaii has installed the "AtHoc" emergency notification system to deliver alerts regarding critical incidents and situations such as severe weather events, external threats, and environmental disasters.
Visit the Ready Army website at https://ready.army.mil, which provides helpful resources for families and individuals, with a specific packing list for emergency kits. Emergency kits should supply yourself and all family members for at least 14 days, with a gallon of water a day per person.