Hawaii false alarm bears extra significance for top Oneida County safety official

ORISKANY, N.Y.-- Though he manages Oneida County's 911 center, Kevin Revere knows how many hurdles one must jump to blast out a warning like the one that spread across Hawaii this weekend.

Posted: Jan 15, 2018 7:02 PM
Updated: Jan 15, 2018 7:15 PM

ORISKANY, N.Y.-- Though he manages Oneida County's 911 center, Kevin Revere knows how many hurdles one must jump to blast out a warning like the one that spread across Hawaii this weekend.

This was the false alarm message sent from Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency:
 
           "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

"It's designed to notify the public as quickly as possible," Revere said. "It does ask if you really want this to send this message and somebody said 'Yes' when they should have said 'No.'"

The message was a test between shift changes that accidentally went live. For 911 center directors across the country, it was a lesson in precision.

"If we send a test message, it says 'test test test,'" Revere said. "We do not mention anything about any sort of issue or disaster."

For Revere however, there's extra significance to preventing mistakes of this nature.

"My brother lives in Hawaii and he got the message,"Revere said. "He and his wife and two kids, they didn't know what to do. They live near a hospital and figured there'd be more shelter."

Revere, who was working with evacuated flood victims in Sylvan Beach, thought he may have spoken to his brother for the last time.

"Yeah, he was calling to say goodbye," Revere said. "It was pandemonium."

The problem was corrected within 38 minutes, but Revere says he trains his employees with the system internally, so they are prepared when an emergency strikes.

"We use it to advise our personnel of different things going on," Revere said. "Even right down to if we need people to come in for overtime, we do that on purpose so we keep people up-to-date."

Revere's brother says he's not angry about the mistake, but says the event heightened tensions in a state where people already live in fear of missile attacks.

"It caused a lot of panic and concern," Terry Revere, who lives in Hawaii said. "That's what everybody was thinking, it would be a North Korean missile. I get why people are upset, but I was more into trying to calm my 11-year-old daughter."

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