My first storm season as an emergency responder
by Chase Ogoshi | Aug. 20, 2020
When Hurricane Douglas approached the islands a few weeks back, as a utility company all of our employees had to be prepared. After all, Hawaiian Electric supplies power to 95 percent of the state. Every employee is assigned a role during an emergency, and some of us were activated as part of our Incident Management Team (IMT). I was among those individuals.
Since I am considered an emergency responder, I had to undergo training when I first started working here. I completed several hours of training online and even attended an all-day training session at Ford Island. With all this training, it still doesn’t completely prepare you for the real thing — in this case, a hurricane.
Before starting my job as a digital communications and social media specialist, I was told that I would be an emergency responder. I didn’t realize the full extent of what that meant, but I knew it would be important — and that is clearer to me now more than ever. I can tell you this: The most important part of being an emergency responder is to make sure that my family is safe, so I can do my job when a major event occurs.
A few days before Hurricane Douglas was projected to make landfall, our IMT was activated. This meant that I was supposed to stop what I was working on and shift all my attention toward the upcoming storm. We were given our shift schedules in advance, and I was on-call and actively responding to customers on social media, sharing information about outages with the public. During an emergency, there are more inquiries from customers through social media than usual.
We immediately pushed out news releases, encouraging customers to be prepared and get their 14-day emergency preparedness kits ready. We were constantly pushing out information to keep our customers informed. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to follow our Twitter accounts @HwnElectric (for updates on Oahu), @MauiElectric (for Maui County updates), and @HIElectricLight (for updates on Hawaii Island).
As the storm came dangerously close to the islands, we were lucky that it passed without having a major impact. Still, it was beneficial to have real-life emergency response training. When the next hurricane comes around (and let’s hope it’s not soon), I’ll be better prepared to help our company and customers.
During Douglas I memorized almost every storm tip that we provide to our customers. And, I’m pretty sure I annoyed the heck out of my family and friends by repeatedly promoting and reminding them about Hawaiian Electric’s Handbook for Emergency Preparedness. Just remember, you should always be prepared — no matter what.
As a reminder, we have a lot of information and tips about emergency preparedness and how you can be ready for the next disaster. Be sure to download our free Handbook for Emergency Preparedness or our quick tips at www.hawaiianelectric.com/prepare. It’s better to be safe, than sorry!
Chase Ogoshi is a digital communications and social media specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.