Escambia Fire Chief In Hawaii During Missile Message ‘Scare’

January 14, 2018

An Escambia County Fire Rescue chief in Hawaii says Saturday’s false warnings about an imminent ballistic missile attack could serve as a preparedness tool.

Battalion Chief Curt Isakson was at his hotel in Waikiki Beach when his cell phone went off with the missile warning, and alarms sounded in the hotel. He and his wife are in Hawaii for a conference unrelated to his county position.

Shortly after 8 a.m. local time Saturday in Hawaii, residents and visitors received the message, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

Isakson told that the message could serve to better prepare Hawaiians in the event of an actual attack.

“When we had lunch the employees and our server totally admitted that they are not ready for this at all; nobody has a plan of action,” he said. “This in the end could’ve been a good thing to let people have a plan and get ready, like a hurricane.”

“It is definitely a heightened peoples awareness of where this place it’s in relation to North Korea and everything going on,” Isakson continued. “Yes it was an accident but in the end it was almost like a drill to let people know that the threat is real.”

Hawaii Governor David Ige said the false missile alert that panicked islanders on Saturday morning was “totally unacceptable” and said the warning was caused by human error.

Ige told reporters Saturday that he is “angry and disappointed” by the situation. “Today is a day that most of us will never forget — a day when many in our community thought that our worst nightmares might actually be happening,” he said.

​The administrator of Hawaii’s Emergency Management Administration, Vern Miyagi, told reporters that the person responsible for the erroneous message “feels terrible” about it. Told by reporters that emergency sirens had actually gone off in some communities, Miyagi said he would have to look into the matter.

Hawaiians described panic when they got the emergency alert Saturday morning on television, radio, email and mobile devices.

The mistake was discovered within 20 minutes, but it took 38 minutes for state officials to issue a correction on mobile devices, which brought criticism from islanders, government officials and the media.

VOA News contributed to this report.


13 Responses to “Escambia Fire Chief In Hawaii During Missile Message ‘Scare’”

  1. David Lamb on January 18th, 2018 7:53 pm

    It is highly unlikely that any president could pull off a missile launch without the approval of the JCS and it could be stopped by one person down the chain not performing his/her duties. As an example….one of the systems that I was responsible to maintain on the Airborne Command Post was a missile launch system. Once the SIOP data was loaded it took a sequence of events to prepare for launch The final step. after getting authentication to launch was to turn 3 keys simultaneously by 3 different officers. These keys were far enough apart that no one individual could perform the sequence in a timely manner. If not completed in a certain time period(seconds) the system, would not launch.
    It was tested often by actually launching missiles (duds) from AFB We were flying within a certain range of the missile silo and send the launch signal. The launches were successful and the missile selected from inventory with no warhead would fly to a spot in the Pacific and sink. Other countries may not have the fail safes we have.

  2. David Huie Green on January 18th, 2018 6:07 am

    ” What a shame some overlook the actual local folks responsible in favor of heaping more reflexive criticism on the President.”

    Ye, a shame we can imagine him nuking millions of men, women, children on a whim to show his “button” is bigger.

    David for sanity

  3. NWFLAFOB on January 17th, 2018 8:23 am

    A friend who lives in Hawaii said the governor, mayor, and head of civil defense appeared like morons on TV when addressing this. They had not contacted NORAD or Pacific Command before sending the alert. That’s one heck of a butt dial! So now there will be two people required to set off such an alert. What a shame some overlook the actual local folks responsible in favor of heaping more reflexive criticism on the President.

  4. David Huie Green on January 15th, 2018 2:50 pm

    “I guess another plan to maintain is to keep the bigger button.”

    I like to imagine there really being a big red button — but which actually goes to Vice President Pence’s desk and lights a sign saying: TIME TO INVOKE THE 25th.

    David for reasonable precautions

  5. David Huie Green on January 15th, 2018 2:45 pm

    “If we ever get nuked, I want that thing to hit me right on head”

    Not me. You live too close to me for me to want the nuke to hit you. People a few thousand feet away from the airblast in Hiroshima did not die of radiation poisoning but lived long, healthy lives. Fusion can be more powerful but need not be and can produce less ionizing radiation and fewer radioactive isotopes.

    *”I would get to be with my Lord Jesus Christ”*

    You can do THAT anytime.

    David for hope and patience

  6. David Huie Green on January 15th, 2018 2:36 pm

    “If it was an actual attack, why run and hide? What could you do to save yourself from the impending attack?”

    Because it might be the combination of weak enough and distant enough that a little shelter could keep you alive to help others. The warhead might be a dud, chemical, or missing. The guidance system might malfunction or be aiming elsewhere.

    David for non-defeatism

  7. idea on January 15th, 2018 12:18 pm

    Ok, the first thing we need to do is panic.

  8. Citizen on January 14th, 2018 9:59 pm

    I guess another plan to maintain is to keep the bigger button.

  9. David Lamb on January 14th, 2018 9:41 pm

    Jason has the right idea. Todays nukes are far more deadly than the Japan weapons.
    Flight time to target is around 15 minutes. not enough time to shelter. Blast force could be 30 to 40 miles from center in just a few seconds.
    While stationed @ Offutt AFB (target #1) we had a recall at 2am one morning.”This is not an exercise. report to work immediately”. I arrived to work to find that NORAD systems indicated an actual launch and missiles were on the way. About an hour later we were told to stand down . that it was a computer glitch. No Civilian EMS message was released.

  10. Jason on January 14th, 2018 7:29 pm

    If it was an actual attack, why run and hide? What could you do to save yourself from the impending attack? Go to the bottom floor of a hotel so you can bury yourself in the rubble? If you only got a few minutes left why not enjoy Hawaii, you will have the whole beach to yourself.

  11. john on January 14th, 2018 7:24 pm

    If we ever get nuked, I want that thing to hit me right on head, who would wanna survive something like that just to die a slow agonizing death with all the radiation and other contamination. I would get to be with my Lord Jesus Christ

  12. anne 1of2 on January 14th, 2018 11:15 am

    How handy to have one of our own there when it happened. We keep being told to have a plan. I don’t see a group staying together in a case like this, panic will naturally kick in, it’s called the survival instinct..

  13. Anne on January 14th, 2018 6:27 am

    When you hear the sirens Get under your desk; Crouch on hands and knees; Put your head down and cover it with your hands; Close your eyes, Don’t talk, Remain until the All Clear is given.

    So, speed forward some 60 or so years and just what do folks do?

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