Hotel industry looks to step up emergency preparedness after missile alert mistake

Updated: Mar. 29, 2018 at 1:46 PM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - After January's false nuclear missile alert caused widespread panic across the state, Hawaii's visitor industry leaders want to ensure its hotels and their employees know what to do in the event of a real threat.

The Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association (HLTA) and the Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association (HHVISA) hosted an emergency management workshop today in Waikiki, where security experts outlined plans and critical steps hotels can implement when faced with a potential nuclear missile attack.

"I think we're pretty good in dealing with tsunamis, hurricanes, and storms, but this is a new phenomenon that we're dealing with," said Mufi Hannemann, HLTA's President and CEO.

Jerry Dolak, Director of Security & Safety for Outrigger Hotels and President of HHVISA, says there was a nuclear attack emergency plan for hotels before the January 13th false alert took place, but he says it was up to the hotels to read and practice the plan.

"Some hotels implemented it exactly the way they were supposed to, but some really didn't have knowledge of it ahead of time. They reacted the best way they could, but that's not good enough," said Dolak.

Dolak described the different zones around the blast site and the possible devastation to the population and infrastructure in those zones.

He says it's important that the hotel industry plans ahead and reacts immediately, and says the one thing people can do to increase their chances of survival is finding shelter immediately.

"When you look at some of these buildings, the best place to be is stairwells because the stairwells are surrounded by concrete. Metal doors are probably one of your best options," said Dolak. "Establish where your safe havens will be -- where you're going to send people to in your building. Make sure that the employees or staff know where those places are well ahead of time," he added.

Dolak says rooms toward the center of a building and away from both the roof and ground floor are best to protect yourself from radioactive fallout. He says it's also important to be mindful of air vents.

"You might have a plan to shut air conditioning or fans to parking garages. Use plastic wrap to cover the small openings so something doesn't come in," Dolak said.

When it comes to a nuclear missile threat, the city's Disaster Preparedness Officer says its up to the hotels to take a look at their properties and assess the best shelter locations.

Hotel security directors say they'll be working to educate their associates about these emergency procedures, and they hope these best practices will also be useful for them at home.

"That's the key thing for the hotel industry and any business. Have the families take care of themselves first, then they're willing to come to work to help us," said Dave Kajihiro, Director of Safety and Security for Kyo-ya's Oahu properties.

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