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Gov. Fallin: Safeguards in place to prevent emergency warning being sent

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin announced Tuesday that procedures are in place to prevent a false warning being sent by the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM).

As part of those procedures, members of a team within the agency will discuss the need for an alert and approve messaging before an alert is issued, the governor said.

Saturday, an emergency alert notification was sent out in Hawaii, claiming a “ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii,” however, officials say it was a false alarm caused by an employee pressing the “wrong button” during a shift change.

“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” the initial emergency alert read.

While the message caused concern on social media, the Hawaii Office of Emergency Management quickly responded on Twitter, saying, “NO missile threat to Hawaii.”

“It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift and an employee pushed the wrong button,” Gov. David Ige told CNN.

A second emergency alert was sent to phones in Hawaii 38 minutes after the initial message confirming the false alarm.

“The safeguards used by the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management ensure that when a warning message is issued Oklahomans should indeed begin to take precautions and that it is not a false alarm,” said Fallin.

The last time the OEM issued an emergency alert was during the January 2011 blizzard when numerous motorists were stranded on highways across the state. The alert notified motorists how to request for help.

“In Oklahoma, disasters can occur in any season, so it’s critical to have procedures in place for issuing emergency alerts and notifications,” said Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. “We take this responsibility very seriously, and have built in precautions to ensure an accidental alert cannot happen.”

OEM test the Emergency Alert System monthly.