Students volunteer at OGG airport exercise


Photo by Gabrielle Constantino

Makeup is applied to freshman Taylor Cho, so it appears she has crushing injuries.

Kamehameha Maui high school students volunteered as victims of a mock emergency crash at Kahului Airport on Oct. 22, along with Health Occupations Students of America students from Maui High School.

The triennial emergency response exercise is acted out every three years so that first responders can prepare in the case of a large-scale emergency. 

According to the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation website, “Kahului Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting teams, Maui Police Department, Maui Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, Maui Civil Defense, Hawaii Air National Guard, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, American Red Cross, Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team, Maui Memorial Medical Center, American Medical Response, Healthcare Association of Hawaii, Maui Visitors Bureau, user airlines and other state agencies” were involved.

While the activity meant a day off from school, the students were not just goofing off. The “victims” play an important part in the island’s disaster readiness plan and had a chance to explore careers in first response.

“The emergency response drill was an important activity and one not to be taken lightly,” Ms. Naomi Ashman said. “Though it was a fun activity, it is real and is something that could happen here on Maui.”

Students acted out various injuries that were assigned to them. Some had to pretend to be dead upon arrival. The students portrayed various scenarios, such as being rescued from a bus or a plane.

“I learned a lot today about protection and safety,” sophomore Tyson Haupu said. “I would like to go into the medical field, so this is more of a push to do so. Now, I also have more a deep appreciation for firefighters and EMTs because they risk their lives to save ours.”

As the drill finished, there were firefighters who took the time to speak to all of the high school volunteers about their responsibilities. Kamehameha alumnus Evan Garces (’09) was one of the firefighters who presented.

After the mock emergencies ended, the Kamehameha students took the bus to Keōpūolani Park for lunch and stopped at Tasaka Guri-Guri for dessert afterward.

The day ended with students returning the airport fire station for a quick tour. They saw the inside of a fire truck and the crew’s meeting room and living quarters.