The Hawaii man who was sacked after issuing the false ballistic missile alert in mid-January told reporters Friday that he was very upset over the incident but remained adamant that it appeared, at the time, to be a real-life attack.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige said he was notified of the false alarm just two minutes after the alert went out to residents' phones and TVs, but waited 11 minutes to tell the public because he had forgotten his Twitter password.
"I still feel very badly about it". It was just a body blow for me. He was also said to have had a "poor performance" on the job, in a separate state report.
"It was incredibly hard for me, very emotional", he said, adding that his team was immediately flooded with phone calls from frantic citizens. The worker had mistakenly believed drills for tsunami and fire warnings were actual events, and colleagues were not comfortable working with him, the state said.
His supervisors counseled him but kept him for a decade in a position that had to be renewed each year, authorities said.
"When the phone call came in, someone picked up the receiver instead of hitting speaker phone so that everyone could hear the message", he said. "That didn't happen. Someone lifted the reciever so the beginning of the message was not able to be heard", he said.
Speaking on condition on anonymity from his lawyer's office, the man said he now realizes he mistook a routine drill for an attack. "I didn't hear exercise at all in the message or from my co-workers".
A Federal Communications Commission report found that the emergency worker did in fact actually believe the threat was real.
A federal and state report earlier this week said the checklist for missile alerts was vague, managers did not need a second person to sign off the alerts before sending, and they had not prepared for how to correct a false alarm. Good morning, Marci. He feels so awful that in the week since he has barely been able to eat or sleep.
The administrator and executive officer of the states's Emergency Management Agency stepped down last Tuesday, after the report on its failures was released.
The fired employee insisted he's being scapegoated by Hawaiian officials and he is considering legal action against The Aloha State. The state did not name him.
The man known as the "button pusher" says he thought Hawaii was in danger.
Another employee was being suspended without pay, officials said.
He also said protocols for the drills he was involved in changed each time.
However, the former state worker said those two previous incidents were essentially "paperwork" issues, not errant alerts. He said he was not trying to impede any investigations: "There really wasn't anything else to say". Another employee had to resume his duties and send a correction message, Oliveira said.