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The Issue

In an emergency, your company’s management and operations teams need a place to be in order to effectively manage the company’s response to the crisis. This location is called an Emergency Operations Center, and could be someplace as simple as a local hotel conference room, or as intricate as a fully-built out center on your own property. With current technology bringing remote users closer, virtual EOCs (VEOC) are also becoming more prevalent. If you are interested in learning more about VEOCs, please see Regina Phelps’ article, A Brand New World – Virtual EOCs.

What You Should Know

What is an Emergency Operations Center (EOC)?
An EOC is a physical place where an emergency incident is managed. It also refers to the people and organizations (or teams) that are housed in a physical EOC.

Why do we need one?
A well-organized EOC is critical for effective emergency management. In order to manage an emergency, company management needs to focus on the “Four C’s”: Control, Communication, Coordination, and Collaboration. Organizations without an EOC from which to centrally manage an event often find it difficult – if not impossible – to implement the Four C’s.

What do I need to consider if I want to create an EOC?
The following topics will give you a good idea of what you’ll need to consider as you delve into the EOC issue:

  • What’s your vision of the EOC?
  • How does it fit into your current BCP process?
  • What are the hazards specific to your company?
  • Your industry? Your physical location(s)?
  • Would your current building infrastructure accommodate an EOC?
  • What’s available to develop your physical EOC? Budget? Space requirements? Equipment? Technology? What other options do you have or want?
  • How would your EOC be organized? By departments or divisions? By physical locations? Modeled after the ICS (Incident Command System) structure?
  • What role would Senior Management have in the EOC? How would they be involved?
  • How would information flow in the EOC? Would you have a message center with a coordinator? What kind of checks and balances would you have for messages, status boards, reports?
  • What would the overall communication strategy be for the EOC? Would various forms be created (status, message, report)? Would there be press briefings? Executive briefings? Would you (or do you) have an employee hotline number?
  • How would EOC teams handle the media? Would a media center be appropriate? Would you have regular press briefings? Do you restrict communication to the media to specified media spokespersons?
  • Will your EOC handle sustained operations? Would it be designed for a short-term emergency, or a sustained event?
  • What kind of EOC documentation would you have? Do you have checklists? Appropriate policies in place? Media templates? Cross-training manuals?
  • How would you exercise the EOC and the teams who would use it?

How Can EMSS Help?

EMS Solutions can help you answer these questions and guide you through the EOC development process, to design an EOC appropriate to your specific needs, whether it be a brick-and-mortar EOC or a virtual EOC. EMSS can also offer Emergency Operations Center training, as well as design and facilitate EOC exercises.

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