Hawaii Citizens Receive False Emergency Alert


On Saturday, January 13, 2018, the citizens of Hawaii received a message telling them to prepare for an incoming missile. While the situation was a false alarm and there was no missile, widespread panic followed as people fled to find shelter and talk with loved ones, believing they might die in the coming minutes.


Since November, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has been running a drill to prepare for a sudden attack in the event that a missile is, indeed, on its way to Hawaii. In addition, North Korea has sent the United States many threats about launching a missile attack on this country. This made the threat seem likely, and the fear even more real. Then, on January 13, the employee assigned the job of starting the drill, unknowingly, sent a message throughout the Aloha State warning citizens of incoming missiles.


The alarm system is set up into a drop-down menu. When the employee went to click the menu choice to run the drill, he clicked the actual emergency alert instead of the practice program. This sent a message to the people of Hawaii telling them there is a “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL”. State officials did not realize the mistake until 38 minutes later when they set out a statement saying how the previous alert was actually a false alarm.


The false alarm led many Hills students to consider what they might do if they received the message. Ryan Brodsky, a freshman, says, “It would be too surreal. I would not be ready for it. I would not expect it. I would be in shock.” This feeling of shock was felt by thousands across Hawaii as they prepared for what they believed was their final minutes. Other people, however, reacted differently, such as Danny Dibella presumes he would do. He mentions that, in the heat of the moment, the “first thing I would do is contact my family and see if i could be with them during the time that the missile hit”. Here at Pascack Hills, students cannot imagine what it must feel like to live what may be your final hour, yet many United States citizens experienced just that.


While there were not any incoming missiles in this instance, this may jeopardize public safety in the future. Some citizens, in the case that they receive a message such as this one, may believe it is just a false alarm after this situation, and not seek safe shelter.  A freshman at Pascack Hills, Alec Boyajian, notes that “they may not take the next one seriously if it actually happens”. There may actually be an incoming attack in the future, and some people may not take the proper precautions; they may expect it to be a false alarm without knowing if it truly is.


There may have not been any physical damage to Hawaii from this event, but its citizens have a new mental scar from the fear they felt on this day.