News: Mainland agencies help to keep Hawaii’s water clear, blue, safe
Story by Staff Sgt. Kyle Richardson
HONOLULU - The sixth annual Kai Malu O’ Hawaii joint and interagency full-scale threat training exercise took place at the Honolulu Airport and Bellows Air Station training areas May 7-9.
Kai Malu O’ Hawaii, which translates into protected waters of Hawaii, is operated by civil support teams and first responders at the local, state, and federal levels.
KOH tests first responders and CSTs’ responses to maritime, chemical, nuclear, biological, radiological attacks, and disaster assistance by taking self-sustaining agencies and bringing them together under one command. The 196th Infantry Brigade, U.S. Army Pacific, assisted the Hawaii National Guard in coordinating the exercise.
“I think this is a great exercise,” said Paul Cruz, USARPAC CBRNE training specialist. “This exercise gives our armed forces, interagencies, and state partners the opportunity to work through scenarios almost like they would in real life but in a controlled environment. These training events help us to determine the assets everyone has. In the long run, we can plan accordingly to tragedies as they occur. No two disasters are alike.”
Roughly 500 people came together for the training exercise. The CSTs that participated in the exercise came from Hawaii, Guam, Utah, Nevada, California, Washington, Alaska, and New Mexico. Military services included the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard along with the Hawaii’s National Guard. The Honolulu Harbor Police, fire and police departments, Hawaiian Airlines, and Honolulu Airport management were also a part of the exercise.
State and federal agencies participating in the exercise included U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Civil Defense, Department of Health, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
During the 36-hour training exercise, CSTs conducted maritime, plane-boarding, mass-casualty, intermediate medical aid, and decontamination operations. The training provided an opportunity for the first responders to detect and respond to chemical weapons and agents in various environments while attending to the casualty role-players. Along with detecting the sources, the teams had to coordinate with the proper agencies to eliminate the sources, decontaminate equipment and people, and treat the wounded.
“Kai Malu O’ Hawaii is one of the largest events we do each year,” said Ray Toves, USARPAC director for the weapons of mass destruction civil support team training. “It’s important to get all of these agencies together to train as one team. Jurisdiction alone changes from land to sea. Operating on a 10-story boat creates its own unique challenges opposed to being on land.”
The CST teams and first responders received valuable hands-on experience during the exercise, but they also received a secondary benefit from the training. The training provided face-to-face communication with joint services and interagencies.
“During a disaster, you don’t want to meet people for the first time,” said Maj. Aaron Blanchard, office in charge for the 93rd Civil Support Team, Hawaii National Guard. “Working hand-in-hand with our sister agencies during these training exercises help us to see what capabilities they have or what they may need. Plus, every agency and organization has their own way of conducting operations. However, when we come together, we operate as one team using the same playbook.”
As the annual training continues and the CSTs become more proficient, they will be able to stay true to the exercise’s name and continue to keep Hawaii’s waters safe.