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Military, state agencies take steps to prepare for emergencies

26 September 2023

From Anna Marie G. Gonzales, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - In an effort to prepare for a natural disaster, Hawaii Emergency Management managers from the U.S. Navy work in partnership with various military branches and state agencies to teach Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) courses to other organizations to help them prepare for future incidents.
“We’re very fortunate here in Hawaii and we get to partner with a lot of different organizations, including the other services,” said Will Luna, emergency management manager for Navy Region Hawaii. “This partnership began when my predecessor and subject matter experts in the field of emergency management came together several years ago under the Indo-Pacific (PACOM) and U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) to create a team of trained professionals to be able to be certified by FEMA to provide these trainings.”

Luna also mentioned that these trainings enabled them to work closely together to provide the knowledge and information across the services.

“Typically, a class is composed of Marines, Coast Guard, Army, Air Force and Navy participants, both civilians and active duty,” added Luna. “We also partner with HI-EMA [Hawaii Emergency Management Agency], and the City and County of Honolulu.”

As one of the instructors, Luna talks about how this course benefits first responders and operation centers.

“Our first responders and our staff here at operation centers are putting their lives on the line when they respond to these disasters,” Luna said. “They’re doing that to save lives of our population and to protect property to sustain mission assurance, and to get that incident under control so that it doesn’t get worse.”

“Those first responders deserve to be safe and have a good plan and have that infrastructure around them to protect them and support them while they do this important mission and that’s what these courses ultimately build," Luna added.

In partnership with the Navy, Peter Hirai, emergency management program coordinator for USARPAC talks about how often these courses are available.

“These courses are usually scheduled several months out but we try to offer these courses three to four times here locally, and we also offer them overseas in all locations throughout the Pacific,” Hirai said. “ We have these courses in Korea, Guam, Japan, and wherever we have a Department of Defense presence.”

“In this class, we are teaching the US 300 course which is a continuation course that basically qualifies somebody to work in the incident command system,” Hirai added. “It is a nationwide approach for people managing incidents, disasters, or planned events.

As part of the National Incident Management System, this course is required for many first responders. When they respond to an incident, they will be better prepared to organize and respond to the incident more effectively.

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