HPU students participate in Honolulu airport readiness exercise

October 30, 2014

HPU at airport exercise
Hawai'i Pacific University volunteers participated in a recent emergency exercise at Honolulu International Airport.

HONOLULU — At a recent emergency exercise at Honolulu International Airport, about 160 Hawai‘i Pacific University Nursing, Public Health and Social Work students were among the participants helping first responders test their readiness.

The HPU students were were among the 400 volunteers who played roles of injured victims, family members and triage nurses at the airport’s Triennial Emergency Exercise, Oct. 15. Volunteers arrived as early as 5:30 a.m. to prepare for the realistic scenario, which included adding simulated injuries to participants.

“Aside from academics, students learned the value of providing community service,” said HPU Chair and Professor of Public Health Mark Tomita, Ph.D. “Without the 360 plus volunteers, and 440 airport personnel and first responders, the airport would not be able to conduct preparedness exercises such as (this).”

The exercise is conducted as a certification requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration and tests airfield disaster preparedness and response by simulating a full-scale aircraft emergency disaster. The exercise tests and evaluates the operational capacity of emergency response in a stress environment.

“All of the students learned about disaster preparedness (in this) exercise. The nursing students also applied their knowledge and skills to triage disaster victims,” said Tomita. “We must always be ready for a possible disaster.”

“It is important to train for worst case scenarios even as we hope that they never occur,” said Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Interim Director Ford Fuchigami. “Training, working together and being prepared will make the difference in a crisis situation. We thank all of those who volunteered their time to make this exercise a success.”

The multi-agency exercise, conducted from 7:30 to noon, also employed the use of volunteers from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, Chaminade University and airport personnel, who assisted and played the role of the injured. Participating agencies included City & County of Honolulu Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, American Medical Response, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam – Federal Fire Department, U.S. Coast Guard – Honolulu Sector, FAA, state Department of Public Safety, Aloha Air Cargo and Hawaiian Airlines.

HPU Public Health