The aftermath of the Haitian earthquake and other disasters that have occurred around the world recently should serve as an early warning system for us, considering our own vulnerabilities. In Hawai‘i—even beautiful, tranquil Maui—we are at risk for earthquakes, tsunami, hurricanes, wild fires and a whole slew of other unpleasantries.
If an island- or state-wide disaster were to occur, existing federal, state and local emergency services would initially be overwhelmed. Maui would likely have to be largely self-sufficient for an extended period of time.
In the chaotic early hours or days of a disaster, how would you respond? What are you prepared to do until help arrives?
A disaster can bring out both the best and the worst in people. To be effective and efficient, we need preparation and training. Understanding the challenges that an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane can present and taking reasonable precautions is the best way to gain a sense of calm and confidence when a situation is out of control. And while personal readiness is crucial, there will also be challenges requiring the cooperative efforts of neighbors and communities.
To that end, the Maui Civil Defense Agency and the Maui Fire Department offer the Community Emergency Response Team training (CERT) program at various locations on Maui each year. Training includes classes in family preparedness, light search and rescue, first-responder medical treatment, fire safety and identification of hazards.
In the gap between the occurrence of a disaster and the time relief efforts begin to percolate into the state, we may need to fend for ourselves for up to three days or more. A network of CERT teams is being established throughout Maui County that will fill that gap until professional assistance arrives.
CERT classes will be offered after work hours and on Saturdays in March (2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13) in the Kahului Fire Department Training Room. In May (4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15), training will be held at the Kīhei Community Center. Upcountry, training will be offered at the Jesus is Alive Church in July (12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24). On the West Side, classes will be held in September/October (28, 30, 2, 4, 6, 9) in the Lahaina Civic Center.
We are truly blessed to live in Hawai‘i, but there is nowhere on Earth that is immune to natural disasters—not even Maui. It’s not a question of if, but when.