At 8:07 a.m. on Saturday, Jan 13, citizens in Hawaii received a mobile alert: “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii, seek immediate shelter.
This is not a drill,” according to The Hill. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (EMA) sent out another message 38 minutes later calling the initial alert a false alarm.
That interval was more than enough time for a missile from North Korea to reach its target.
Some citizens scurried to take shelter as in an underground parking garage, or even a storm drain, as pictured on RT.com. Some sped to try to reach home in their car. Some jammed phone lines to say good-by to family.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters referred to the missile alert as a “state exercise.” At change of shift, somebody apparently “pushed the wrong button.”
“What this exercise shows is the disarray in the EMA and the appalling unpreparedness of the U.S. in these days of nuclear proliferation,” stated Jane M. Orient, M.D., president of Physicians for Civil Defense. “Outside the zone of maximum destruction, most people could survive if they knew what to do. But most lack the basic information drilled into schoolchildren in the 1950s.”
“The knowledge that would save more lives than anything else is to drop and cover if you see a bright flash,” she said. “If you have warning, take the best available shelter, underground if possible, or in the interior of a building. Dirt, concrete, or mass of any type is a radiation shield.”
“A storm drain or parking garage could save your life. Driving around in a car is one of the worst things to do.”
Some nations, such as Russia and Switzerland, have an extensive shelter system. “But the U.S. abandoned its shelter survey decades ago,” Dr. Orient said.
After the initial detonation, there might be fallout danger. Physicians for Civil Defense has equipped many first responders with expedient “dot monitors” to detect dangerous levels of radiation. The U.S. has no robust national fallout monitoring net, and the Cold War radiation monitoring instruments maintained by states were retired decades ago and not replaced.
“The current Hazmat instruments are for interdiction. They would be offscale and worse than useless in a post-attack environment,” Dr. Orient stated.
“It is not safe to assume that rulers like Kim Jong-un will be deterred from using their nuclear arsenal by threat of retaliation,” Dr. Orient stated. “Americans need to consider what they will do if the mobile alert is for real. Even first responders told Stephen Jones on his coast-to-coast bike ride for civil defense that they had no training for this contingency.”
Physicians for Civil Defense distributes information to help to save lives in the event of war or other disaster.
Contact: Jane M. Orient, M.D., (520) 323-3110, [email protected]