(Pictured are Lt. Debra Austin and Elwyn Watkins)
The John A. Burns School of Medicine was fortunately spared any of the tsunami damage seen elsewhere in our islands, and none of the tragedy we are all so terribly sorry to see in Japan.
We thought you might like to know, however, how the John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Emergency Response team members worked through the night on Thursday, March 10, quickly reacting to the tsunami warning issued for Hawai’i, which required that the entire Kaka’ako Campus be evacuated.
Dr. William Haning received the first alert of a Tsunami Watch at about 8:13 p.m., and called our school security officers asking that they standby. In addition to being an essential faculty member and researcher in our Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Haning serves as the medical school’s emergency coordinator.
By 9:15, Elwyn Watkins of Facilities Management was arranging to meet with Security Leader Lt. Debra Austin to prepare to evacuate and secure the Kaka’ako Campus. They soon learned that officials wanted the evacuation completed before midnight. By 9:50, when the tsunami watch was upgraded to a warning, the emergency preparedness steps at JABSOM were already underway. Lt. Austin’s team was going through the buildings verbally advising employees and students that they would have to leave.
By 10:20 p.m., Elywn Watkins was locking the external doors and alerting Facilities Director Francis Blanco that the campus had been completely evacuated. Dr. Haning, Watkins, Blanco and others were keeping the Dean’s management team advised every step of the way by emails or cell phone calls. That’s one of the reasons we were able to advise so many of you by email and our website that most JABSOM employees should not report to work on Friday, as a precaution, since the tsunami advisory remained in effect.
For the Facilities and operations teams, however, Friday wasn’t a day off. They arrived bright and early and began taking steps to re-open the Biosciences Building for care of the animals and the Medical Education Building and Health Sciences Library, for students to come to study.
Special thanks for the smooth evacuation go out to Dr. Haning, Watkins, Lt. Austin, Ron Remigio with the Physical Plant team and Lance Sodetani, who is with Operations, Dean Hedges, CFO Nancy Foster and all of you!