Stocking the Disaster Warehouse

(KHNL) - After years in emergency medicine, Mike Yamamoto knows packing light isn't always the best plan.

"Just from experience we take everything because we don't know what's going to come along when we land," said Yamamoto, part of the Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team.

In an urban Honolulu warehouse, the disaster assistance stocks everything needed to field a makeshift hospital anywhere statewide.

"It's equipment and supplies to support health care operations in a disaster," said director Toby Clairmont.

With disaster awareness on the rise, medical teams now prepare for a range of emergencies.

"We're preparing for the traditional stuff, the bread and butter of disaster like plane crashes but also for hurricanes and now pandemic influenza," Clairmont said.

Only a small percentage of the team's equipment is kept in the warehouse. The rest is kept in various locations across the state so they're ready to deal with any given situation.

"You don't want to put all your eggs in the proverbial basket," Clairmont said. "You want to make sure during a disaster it's as close as possible to where it's going to be needed."

In a time of crisis, supply caches like this may be all the help Hawaii gets.

"We prepare more aggressively," Clairmont said. "We're more real about what we're doing because we don't expect any help from the mainland."