Story by Karen Iwamoto on 02/02/2018SCHOFIELD BARRACKS "Repeat after me. Get inside. Stay inside. Stay tuned."
That was the message from Col. Stephen E. Dawson, commander of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, during a missile defense preparedness briefing at this month's Community Information Exchange, Wednesday, at the Nehelani.
While almost a month has passed since a false missile alert sent to cellphones across the state of Hawaii on Jan. 13, preparedness continues to be a top priority for the Army.
Dawson's briefing was aimed at making sure the community knows what to do in the event of a real missile threat and dispelling misconceptions.
He reassured those in attendance that his intent was not to cause undue alarm or panic.
"If there is a missile inbound to the Hawaiian Islands, the U.S. Pacific Command will be the first to know," he said. "They have the capability to detect a missile launch and I can assure you we have the ability to defend against a missile attack."
However, he acknowledged that there are gaps in the system. There are several state siren warning systems located on USAG-HI properties that do not currently work. He said the garrison is making it a priority to get those sirens up and running.
In the meantime, the garrison relies on its Giant Voice broadcast capabilities to broadcast the sirens. Because the Giant Voice broadcasts may not reach all areas of the garrison, he encourages Soldiers and their families to sign up for the Army's AtHoc Mass Warning Notification system.
As far as what to do during an actual missile attack, his message boiled down to three main points:
Hawaii does not have designated fallout shelters or bunkers. Upon receiving notification of an imminent attack or missile threat, individuals and families should seek immediate shelter.
If they are at home, they should remain in their homes, away from windows and turn off their air conditioning and fans. If they are on the road, they should pull over at the nearest building or structure and seek shelter inside.
Individuals and families have approximately 12-15 minutes from the airing of the nuclear attack sirens to take shelter.
Once sheltered, individuals and families should be prepared to stay in place until they are notified that it is safe to leave. It is recommended that homes be stocked with up to 14 days worth of provisions. This includes food, water, prescription medication and other necessities.
Keep televisions and radios close by, as emergency information and updates will be broadcast over them.
Hawaii public schools have a shelter in place plan should an attack occur during school hours. Parents should not attempt to pick their children up, but should shelter in place where they are until instructed otherwise by emergency management officials.
Private schools have similar plans. Parents should contact their children's private schools for more information.
For more tips on what to do during a real missile attack, visit ready.gov/nuclear-blast or dod.hawaii.gov/hema/.
To stay up-to-date on developing news and emergency situations, Dawson encourages the community to follow USAG-HI on Facebook for timely updates, to bookmark the USAG-HI website at https://www.garrison.hawaii.mil and to download the Army's AtHoc emergency notification system.
Prepare for possible furlough
Dawson also briefed attendees on what to expect if the federal government institutes another furlough on Feb. 8.
The following entities will be closed if there is a furlough:
The Schofield Barracks Commissary,
Fort Shafter Auto Skills Center,
Fort Shafter Library, and
Housing Services Operations.
Public schools, including those on Army installations, are run by the Hawaii state Department of Education and will remain open. So will the Army & Air Force Exchange and the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks (although a long-term furlough could impact this).
The community should be aware, in the event of a furlough, that closure of Housing Services Operations would affect temporary lodging allowance briefings, departure briefings and more.
The community is invited to attend USAG-HI's monthly Community Information Exchange, or CIE, held at 9 a.m. the last Wednesday of the month at the Nehelani on Schofield Barracks.
The CIE is open to Soldiers, spouses and civilians and serves as a way for community members to stay on top of issues affecting the garrison and to get their questions answered by garrison and community leaders.
The next CIE is scheduled for Feb. 28.
A video recording of Wednesday's CIE, which includes all of the information contained within this article and more, can be viewed on the USAG-HI Facebook page at http://facebook.com/usaghawaii.