An Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is made up of dedicated professionals who support emergency response, critical lifeline continuity, and crisis communications activities. EOC staff meet at the EOC to manage preparations for an impending or current event or manage the response to an ongoing incident. In some cases, such as a catastrophic earthquake, there may be more than one EOC facility stood up to allow for larger geographical coverage and coordination. Historically, an EOC has been considered a physical location, although the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that a virtual EOC is effective.
While the functions within an EOC are constant, who fills each function may vary based upon the event. For example, if a wildfire is threatening a portion of the county, someone from the fire service will likely fill the role of Operations Section Chief. If the event is more law enforcement-centric, someone from that discipline would fill the Operations Section Chief role. The EOC Director will always be the KCDEM Director unless delegated to another department member.
By gathering the decision-makers together and supplying them with the most current information, better decisions can be made for the greater good. Some key activities associated with an EOC are:
Activation -Bring knowledge and expertise together to deal with events that threaten the county or its cities.
Situation Analysis -Gather information to determine what is happening and to identify potential impacts and cascading effects.
Incident Briefing – Efficiently share information among team members so everyone understands the current and projected situation.
Incident Action Plan – Provide a single plan on expected operational activities over a set period of time. An incident action plan can be written for just a couple of hours or as in the case of a slower-moving event, over a week or more.
Resource Management – Provide a single point of contact to identify, procure (locally, regionally, or through the state) and allocate resources based upon the priority of need.
Incident Management -Monitor actions, capture event data, and adjust strategies as needed to achieve incident stabilization, protection of property and the environment, and promote a return to normalcy.
An EOC is not an on-scene incident command post (ICP) – that is where the focus is on tactics to deal with the immediate localized situation. An EOC is used to support on-scene activities between various response agencies through the prioritization of activities and the allocation of available resources.