Hilo International Airport hosts annual tsunami evacuation exercise

Posted on Nov 29, 2019 in Airports News, Main, News

HILO – The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) advises the public of a joint Tsunami Evacuation Exercise taking place at Hilo International Airport (ITO) on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019 between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The joint exercise with Hawaii Civil Defense, Hawaii Department of Transportation, schools within the Keaukaha area, and community volunteers will test multiagency preparedness and response to a tsunami threat.

“Exercises like this are important in our overall efforts to ensure public safety in the event of an emergency,” said Deputy Director Ross Higashi, Hawaii Department of Transportation, Airports Division. “Conducting such simulations reduce loss of life during actual events and decrease the possibility of real-life failures by responding agencies. Further, engaging with community partners is integral in creating a well-balanced disaster evacuation plan based on public assistance and cooperation.”

The joint tsunami exercise is an annual occurrence that has been carried out since 2008. Each year, a planning committee composed of representatives from the airport, nearby Keaukaha schools, and the community convene to review previous evaluations and prepare for that year’s drill. Simulation of tsunami evacuation across the runway at ITO is included in the exercise every other year.

This year, approximately 700 students of all ages, from elementary to high-school, will take part in the runway evacuation drill. Airport security and maintenance personnel will provide safety support as the Keaukaha students and staff walk across the runway to a nearby airport exit gate. The drill will occur at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 and is expected to take less than half an hour. There are no inbound flights scheduled for the duration of the runway drill.

HDOT alerts the public that the tsunami evacuation exercise at ITO will coincide with the monthly test of the sirens. There will be large amounts of people on the airport property. The scenario is designed to look realistic; however, this is a drill and not a real-life emergency.

Students participating in runway evacuation drills in 2017. Photo courtesy: “HDOT” or “Hawaii Department of Transportation”

Students participating in runway evacuation drills in 2017. Photo courtesy: “HDOT” or “Hawaii Department of Transportation”