In a world as perilously uncertain as ours can be at times, Americans are finding themselves on the business end of a good scare far too often.
Such was the case in Hawaii this weekend as citizens of the Aloha State were delivered an eerie message to their cellular devices. In all capital letters, amid the blaring of the Amber Alert alarm, horrified Hawaiians read the most terrifying announcement of many of their lives.
The phrase “THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” would certainly ring in their minds for a moment. They may check that final line over and over again in their head, queuing their brain for the rapid fire and grandiose prioritizing to come: Kids. Spouse. Family. Then what?
The agonizing ordeal lasted 38 minutes, nearly three quarters of an hour, as Hawaiians simultaneously panicked and planned, packed and pondered. Is this North Korea? Did the Ruskies finally have enough? Is it a test gone long or an actual weapon?
While parents buried their anxiety deep within a stoic facade for their children, and while fathers began to gather the knowledge that their sons must have before they said goodbye, police in Hawaii were already aware that the situation was A-Okay after 5 minutes – a full 33 minutes before the general public was informed.
“A report from Sunday says that local police were aware that a missile attack warning for Hawaii was false only five minutes after it was sent, but it took a full 38 minutes for authorities to correct the inaccurate information.
“According to 911 recordings obtained by Mercury News, police dispatchers had realizedthat the missile warning was a false alarm only minutes after the warnings flashed across cell phones.
“The warning hit cellphones at 8:07 AM on Saturday, January 13, but dispatchers were aware that the report was a false alarm by 8:12, the paper reported. Despite that, officials didn’t rescind the warning until 8:45.
“’Somebody should get fired,’ one police officer is heard saying dourly on the recordings.
“Only minutes after the alert went out, one Island police officer was heard letting out a ‘wheww’ in relief as he learned that the whole thing was untrue.”
Concurrently, the Hawaii 911 switchboards were operating at full capacity, dropping hundreds of calls from terrified citizens – a frightening statistic given the infinite technological advances in bandwidth and storage.
Answers have been hard to come by in the search for the truth behind the alert’s origin. All we’ve been told so far is that a trainee tripped the switch to send the message accidentally during an exercise. The response lag from there is still a mystery to Hawaiians who were affected by the experience.