Employees with the Hawaii state agency responsible for creating a nationwide panic after falsely telling locals and vacationers that a nuclear missile was heading their way in January slept on the job, newly released emails from the bureau reveal.
Hawaii's Emergency Mangement Agency (EMA) sent out an alert on Jan. 13 that warned of an incoming missile.
"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL," the alert, sent to cell phones across the state, read.
The alert — which wasn't corrected for approximately 38 minutes — was sent in an error by an employee who pushed the wrong button, the agency said.
Emails recently released by the state to Hawaii News Now indicate that employees were seen multiple times "watching movies or TV shows. Usually they are sitting around looking unoccupied."
"Approximately two weeks ago, it was reported to me by a staff member who came in early that they observed all three SWP [State Warning Point] staff on shift asleep," an email sent to then-administrator Vern Miyagi from an employee at the agency said.
The same employee voiced concerns about SWP warning protocols, suggesting that workers who manage the system be provided with better training. They also said in an email a day after the false alert was sent that they repeatedly requested the state's missile alert system include a "deactivation section."
"Thought my request for a protocol was not based on a concern about human error, had the protocol been developed within the last two months, the delay yesterday would not have happened," the email reportedly read.
The employee who issued the alert, who Miyagi said "felt terrible" about the ordeal, was fired.
Another employee resigned prior to receiving possible discplinary action. Miyagi also resigned in the wake of the incident.