First responders stage disaster preparedness exercise at HMR

| September 14, 2017 | 0 Comments


HELEMANO MILITARY RESERVATION — Personnel participate in an incident management exercise at Helemano Military Reservation, Sept. 8, 2017. Approximately 100 first responders from multiple agencies participated in this exercise, which utilizes National Incident Management System guidelines. (U.S. Army photo by Kayla Overton, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs)

Kristen Wong
Contributing Writer

HELEMANO MILITARY RESERVATION — As hurricanes Harvey and Irma are putting first responders to work on the mainland U.S., Hawaii’s emergency crews are practicing for the next time they too will face disaster.

“We are grateful to have been able to use the space and facilities at Helemano Military Reservation for this exercise,” said Hiro Toiya, the deputy director of the Department of Emergency Management of the City and County of Honolulu. “During this exercise, we were able to successfully test our capability to assemble resources and establish a fully powered incident command post, and most importantly we learned many lessons.  We live on a small island together and I hope to continue to work together with our partners in the U.S. Department of Defense to ensure the public’s safety through any emergency, whether natural or manmade.”

Approximately 100 first responders from multiple agencies engaged in an incident management exercise, here, Sept. 8. It was the first time the exercise was conducted at HMR.

Police Maj. Ryan Borges, commander of HPD’s Major Events Division, was the incident commander of the Incident Management Team (IMT).

He said the groups’ objective that day was to establish the IMT and coordinate the logistical needs of disaster relief. Part of the set up included hooking up generators and testing equipment.

While at the military reservation, personnel set up a base camp in Building 619, near the fire station. Emergency vehicles were parked strategically together, police tape blocked off parts of the area and personnel pitched tents.

Borges said the exercise could potentially train personnel to be able to offer support in other locations affected by disaster. Ideally, through participation in the exercise, he said, “Our team (would be) trained enough that they could go anywhere in the country and plug right in.”

During this exercise, personnel used a scenario in which a tropical cyclone had caused the Wahiawa Dam to breach, causing 3 billion gallons of water to flood the community. Armed with laptops, maps, communications equipment and more, each department set up its own workspace.


HELEMANO MILITARY RESERVATION — Personnel participate in an incident management exercise at Helemano Military Reservation, Sept. 8, 2017. Approximately 100 first responders from multiple agencies participated in this exercise, which utilizes National Incident Management System guidelines. (U.S. Army photo by Kayla Overton, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs)

“Practice makes perfect,” said Charles Gibbs, the fire chief for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. “In the event of a real emergency, you don’t want to be fumbling around trying to put stuff together.”

Gibbs acted as a military liaison for the event. He welcomed future visits to the site.
The first responders used the National Incident Management System (NIMS) practices. In light of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency created the NIMS in 2003.

“It is the goal of the NIMS to provide a consistent nationwide template for all levels of government and private sector organizations to effectively work together in preparation, response and recovery from domestic incidents,” according to the NIMS guidebook.

“I’d like the public to understand that we have a system in place, a nationwide system that (we) here in Honolulu are trained for, and we’re able to deal with any potential situation or catastrophe that happens here in the islands,” Borges said.

HELEMANO MILITARY RESERVATION — Personnel set up equipment during an incident management exercise at Helemano Military Reservation, Sept. 8, 2017. Approximately 100 first responders from multiple agencies participated in this exercise, which utilizes National Incident Management System guidelines. (U.S. Army photo by Kristen Wong, Oahu Publications)

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