Maui Hazmat Crews in Multi-Agency Disaster Exercise
By Wendy Osher
Emergency responders on Maui are participating in a week-long multi-agency disaster response training program that involves mock disaster scenarios and instruction in incident management.
The week-long course was made possible through a $193,000 two-year grant from the US Department of Homeland Security.
Throughout the week, the participants are put through disaster scenarios, and simulations that offer development for building a professional, organized, highly skilled team to help organize and support response efforts.
To date, an estimated 200 individuals have been trained under the program as inter-agency responders, according to Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga.
Authorities say this is the second team training course conducted so far under the grant program, involving position-specific training.
In addition to firefighters and department personnel, other agencies participating in the five-day exercise include: Maui Police Department; Kahului Airport; Maui County Civil Defense; state Department of Health; Hawaiʻi National Guard; and American Medical Response.
Training for the five-day exercise was provided by Federal Emergency Management Agency instructors from New York, North Carolina, and Washington state.
Today’s disaster scenario included response to a mock chemical spill with three separate training areas set up at the Kahului Fire Station for teams being trained in incident command.
Assistant Chief David Thyne said the emergency preparedness training really comes into play during the first 24 to 72 hours of a large-scale disaster, in which local first responders have to rely on themselves and their training before additional resources and help become available.
According to AC Thyne, the team was being trained in Type-3 response, which could include anything from a major brush fire to an emergency requiring a significant number of resources, and an extended period of attack for containment or control of the situation.
Currently, Maui and Oʻahu have teams that are in the shadowing phase of Type-3 training, in which they are permitted to mirror activated teams.
During the largest Type-1 and Type-2 incidents, where personnel can range from 200 to 1,000, the islands will activate their highest-trained teams on hand, and then fly in higher-level teams to provide support. This includes such scenarios as large-scale hurricanes and tsunamis that result in extensive response.
The Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety was the lead agency in coordinating the training, with support provided by the Maui County Civil Defense Agency.