Vern Miyagi, who oversaw the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, has resigned his position. In addition to Miyagi’s resignation, the employee who issued a ballistic missile alert to Hawaii’s residents earlier this month has been terminated.
The announcement was made during a news conference Tuesday by Governor David Ige, State Adjunct General Major General Joe Logan, and investigating officer Brigadier General Bruce Oliveira.
It was reported that the employee intentionally sent the missile attack message, thinking the island was being attacked, the FCC said in a surprising reversal, after officials had consistently stated the alert was the result of an input error by the one single employee.
The employee, who remains unnamed, had worked at the agency for 10 years, and has reportedly had a history of confusing drills and real-world events. Oliveira stated it was discovered during the investigation this employee had at least two prior incidents of this nature, after which corrections were made and the employee was counselled.
In a written statement, the employee, said he believed there was a real emergency on January 13, 2018, after hearing a recording that stated “THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” But the employee did not hear the first half of the message that stated “EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE,” the FCC said in its preliminary report. Though the recording also ended with the “EXERCISE” message, the employee stated he did not hear it.
The employee followed emergency protocol and transmitted the “live incoming ballistic missile alert to the State of Hawaii,” selecting “yes” when reaching a page asking: “Are you sure that you want to send this Alert?” Oliveira went on to state when
the mistake was realized, the employee reportedly “froze” and “seemed confused”, forcing another worker to take over and send a correction.
Following the investigation, Oliveira has recommended improvements on the warning system, including a revised checklist to standardize the process of conducting drills, and installing a computer process that would immediately send out an “alert cancellation,” the latter of which has already been instituted, he said.