"According to a written statement from the day shift warning officer who initiated the alert, as relayed to the Bureau by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, the day shift warning officer heard "this is not a drill" but did not hear 'exercise, exercise, exercise, ' " the FCC reported.
On Tuesday, the Commission revealed that the employee was taking part in a Hawaii Emergency Management Agency drill and that it was the wording of that drill confused them.
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 Tuesday.
Slides shared by the FCC (PDF) conclude that "a combination of human error and inadequate safeguards contributed to the transmission of this false alert" and that "HI-EMA has taken steps created to ensure that an incident such as this never happens again".
While other officers told the FCC investigators that they knew the phone call was a drill, the officer at the alert terminal, who has refused to talk to investigators and has instead provided the statement, went ahead with the procedure for sending out an alert. Officials in Hawaii also said that, going forward, a second person will be needed to confirm sending out alerts.
The FCC report also highlights the disconnect between the Hawaiian government and U.S. Pacific Command in the drill.
The FCC also adopted updates to the system in 2016 that require carriers to let messages be sent in multiple languages.
The drill simply wasn't meant to test whether Americans in Hawaii can run and poop their trousers at the same time.
The midnight shift supervisor started the drill by playing a recording that deviated from the agency's drill script because it incorrectly included the words, "This is not a drill".
The critical error, according to the person who hit send - the day shift warning officer - was that he or she heard the phrase "this is not a drill", but did not hear "exercise, exercise, exercise". At no point did Employee 1 assist in the process of correcting the False Alert.
It was claimed an official clicked on the wrong item in a drop-down menu.
HI-EMA was overwhelmed by calls, some of which didn't get through.
Asked why the state didn't announce these details earlier, Gov. David Ige said, "To present the information piecemeal would have been inappropriate".
The employee believed the threat was real, and had made the same mistake twice before, state officials said Tuesday.
A report released Tuesday from an internal investigation into the January 13 alert says the worker confused real-life events and drills at least two previous times. "We simply need to identify the problems in order to fix them - not just in Hawaii, but anywhere else where they may exist".