Emergency operations center
|This article does not cite any sources. (December 2007)|
An emergency operations center (EOC) is a central command and control facility responsible for carrying out the principles of emergency preparedness and emergency management, or disaster management functions at a strategic level during an emergency, and ensuring the continuity of operation of a company, political subdivision or other organization.
An EOC is responsible for the strategic overview, or "big picture", of the disaster, and does not normally directly control field assets, instead making operational decisions and leaving tactical decisions to lower commands. The common functions of all EOC's is to collect, gather and analyze data; make decisions that protect life and property, maintain continuity of the organization, within the scope of applicable laws; and disseminate those decisions to all concerned agencies and individuals. In most EOC's there is one individual in charge, and that is the Emergency Manager.
These centers, originally created as part of United States civil defense, can be found in many nations, at all government levels, as well as in larger corporations that deal with large equipment or numbers of employees (such as a fire department, health care organization, etc.) In corporations and smaller jurisdictions, the EOC may be co-located in the same room as an emergency communications center.
The first most critical component of an EOC is the individuals who staff it. They must be properly trained, and have the proper authority to carry out actions that are necessary to respond to the disaster. They also must be capable of thinking outside the box, and creating a lot of "what if" scenarios. The local EOC's function during an emergency is to support the incident commander.
The second most critical component of an EOC is its communications system. This can be from simple word of mouth, to sophisticated encrypted communications networks, but it must provide for a redundant path to ensure that both situational awareness information and strategic orders can pass into and out of the facility without interruption. For continuity of operations considerations, backbone components of the communications system are not normally located at the EOC. A number of EOC facilities are incorporating radio over IP technology to provide a coherent assembly of various radios, interoperability with various radio technologies, and integration with telephone systems.