Toby Clairmont, the executive officer for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, is retiring by year’s end.
The announcement comes amid investigations into the Jan. 13 bogus missile alert that caused widespread panic throughout the state.
Clairmont, 63, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser today that he made the decision to retire awhile ago but never told anybody about his plans to leave his job with the federal and state government.
“No one’s asking me to do it or anything like that. It just reminded me I should tell people so they don’t plan on me being around forever,” said Clairmont, who first posted his retirement plans on Facebook on Jan. 20.
He said he was planning to stay in the position until the end of Gov. David Ige’s first term in December, but said he may decide to leave sooner.
“The end of the year is my hard deadline but we’ll see what happens after all this drama’s over. It’s just time,” he said. “When things like this happen you realize, ‘Why am I still doing this?’”
The false alarm resulted in at least four emergencies that patients say were related, including a man who suffered a massive heart attack minutes after saying goodbye to his children. Honolulu Emergency Medical Services received 29 calls, up from the typical eight to 15 calls, in the hour following the nuclear bomb alert.
The executive officer for HI-EMA said he likely will move to the mainland to be closer to his children and help with emergency preparedness “as a volunteer” someplace else.
Clairmont thanked friends on Facebook for their kindness and support since the mishap and for helping him cope with the situation. He said retiring by the end of 2018 has been “loosely discussed within my family for a couple years now.”
“Although I do not appear to be the target of this nastiness, I am heavily involved in the ballistic missile preparedness program. My fingerprints are appropriately everywhere,” he wrote, adding that it would not be appropriate to share how the doomsday alarm occurred. State and federal officials are investigating the reasons behind the blunder.
“That must be left to someone else and another time. I will continue to serve the U.S. and Hawaii to the best of my ability then retire to raise dogs, do volunteer work and ‘spend time with my family’ (isn’t that what politicians say when they resign for cause?),” he said on Facebook. “As for now, I take things a day at a time focusing on the needs of my staff and the organization I serve. My prayers are for a man I respect and will continue to serve in every way I can — (HI-EMA administrator) Vern Miyagi. Vern is among the best of the best.”
He told the newspaper that he trusts HI-EMA’s leadership and that the public should too. In an earlier post on Jan. 13, Clairmont described the situation as a “simple error with profound consequences.”
“I absolutely know they can have confidence in the people and that’s what really matters so it’s been a little painful watching the assumptions,” he said. “These are very good people. A lot is on the line. These agencies, especially HI-EMA, have been serving Hawaii for decades very responsibly, very reliably and very competently. Mistakes get made.”