Thursday, Feb 24, 2011
Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park pursued a dream — to combine its visitor services and resource protection operations into one centralized building. On Friday, February 18th, the dream was realized with the dedication of a new Visitor Emergency Operations Center (VEOC).
More than a hundred staff and supporters joined in the celebration. Hawaiian voices shared mele (song), oli (chant), and pule (prayer). There were remarks by Superintendent Cindy Orlando, Chief Ranger Talmadge Magno, and Fire Management Officer Joe Molhoek and an opportunity to meet the building’s designers, contractors, and occupants—the dedicated men and women who protect park resources and visitors.
Funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the $5.8 million structure is home base for nearly 25 staff, including law enforcement and eruption duty rangers, fire managers, and dispatchers for the 24-hour Pacific Area Communication Center.
The communication center was dedicated in 2004 to the memory of Park Ranger Steve Makuakane-Jarrell who was shot and killed while alone on duty at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park on December 12, 1999. During Friday's ceremony, tears shed were tears shared as family and friends took time to remember and honor his “ultimate sacrifice.”
The VEOC serves as the command center during major park incidents that include volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildland fires, hurricanes, air accidents, and search and rescue operations. There are training, conference, and interview rooms and a holding cell for those detained for investigative purposes.
Accessible, it’s the place visitors will go for emergency medical services and backcountry and other permits. An air-filtration system ensures the building remains a safe haven during episodes of SO2 exceedance.
The VEOC qualifies as a green building under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Planning and construction employed strategies that matter most – energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.