New protocols are being implements for Hawaii's emergency alert system after an erroneous message about an inbound ballistic missile was sent on Saturday morning causing widespread panic amid rising tensions with North Korea.
Officials say they knew within minutes that an error had occurred, but because of how the system is set up, it took them 38 minutes before a correction could be sent out by the Emergency Alert System because that button was not programmed.
The agency released a report detailing what happened and what steps they've taken to change their alert protocols since the accident. Tests and activations will require two people to verify the alert, and a pre-scripted cancel command has also been written. The cancellation can be sent within seconds if another erroneous message is sent according to officials.
According to the report, these are the actions that HI-EMA has already taken to prevent another accidental message:
1. On the recommendations of the HI-EMA Administrator, Vern Miyagi, the Governor has suspended all future drills until HI-EMA has completed a full analysis of the event.
2. HI-EMA has already instituted a two-person activation/verification rule for tests as well as actual missile launch notifications.
3. A cancellation command that can be done automatically that can be triggered within seconds of an error, has been put in place.
The drill showed how panic and confusion can set in after an emergency alert goes out to the public. Hawaii's emergency management officials say they need to step up outreach to let people know what to do in case of a real emergency.