An emergency operations center (EOC) is an operational structure designed for the management of large-scale emergencies. Most EOCs are set up with a command and control center, a communications structure and facilities, resource management functions, logistic support functions such as medical supply distribution, environmental monitoring to mitigate risks from contaminated areas/events, First Responder Support Functions as needed. An EOC also includes an IT infrastructure including servers and software applications that enable video conferencing capabilities.
An Emergency Operations Center has five roles:
A command and control center provides centralized location for the operation of all activities at the EOC. The command and control center usually has the responsibility for receiving and organizing communications from the field, including requests for assistance, resource status updates, damage report information, and task assignments.
This location is also responsible for coordinating communication with Emergency Support Function #8 (ESF#8), or Federal Response Plan (FRP) agencies that could be involved. An EOC is commanded by a Unified Area Command or Unified Command. A Unified Area Command consists of representatives from all governmental and private agencies involved as well as representatives from local authorities affected by the situation. A Unified Command is similar to a Unified Area Command but functional or agency responsibilities are clearly assigned to specific organizations or individuals.
1. Command and Control Center (C2C) :
The function performed by the facility is accountable for all activities at the facility and coordinates external resources, such as Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) and the military.
2. Emergency Support Function #8 (ESF#8) :
ESF#8 is a Federal organization, normally FEMA, that deploys to the EOC to provide support for the lead agency. A response may require functional areas such as public affairs, mass care, emergency preparedness, security and logistics. The FEMA FCO is normally assigned to this role.
3. Unified Area Command :
Provides a single location in which all command functions are consolidated and coordinated under one tactical command and control structure.
4. Unified Command :
Level of command where the senior Federal Official (SFO) and/or the National Guard Bureau’s National Coordinating Officer (NCO) are performing with their respective agencies in support of their assigned authorities. The purpose is to ensure that all entities within the response are executing simultaneously with one command cell or structure.
5. Emergency Support Function #2 (ESF#2) :
Provides emergency medical care, emergency shelter, and disaster salvage services in support of law enforcement agencies and emergency first responders. ESF#2 is normally referred to as FEMA camps since each has a hospital and clinic section.
6. Public Affairs :
Provides emergency management public information and updates of the situation. It is normally located in the command and control center.
7. First Responder Support Functions (FRSF) :
Provides resources that are specifically tailored to the needs of emergency response personnel who respond to disasters such as First Responders, Incident Management Team members, and Military support personnel.
These functions include, but are not limited to: medical assistance; communications; environmental monitoring; security/protection; logistics/perishable supplies; distribution of disaster relief supplies (e.g. water, food, medicine); engineering/technical expertise; and search, rescue and recovery.
8. National Traffic System (NTS) :
A user-based computer system designed to exchange emergency communications among authorized Federal, State and local agencies’ emergency response facilities. It allows communications between the EOC and all subordinate facilities such as fire stations, emergency medical services (EMS), police department facilities, etc.
The NTS can be used for all disaster-related radio traffic within the municipality/county of operation or in support of a specific incident within a municipality/county or multi-jurisdictional entity.
9. Operations Section :
Responsible for managing resources at the EOC, such as personnel, equipment, supplies and information. The section is responsible for ensuring that the EOC is properly staffed according to the established Incident Action Plan and that plans are updated once an emergency situation has been declared by officials. The section maintains a situation log of all activities conducted at the facility. This log documents all actions taken by individuals present at the EOC during an emergency event.
10. Logistics Section :
Responsible for coordinating logistics activities in support of disaster survivors and field operations unit personnel (firefighters, law enforcement officers, etc.) deployed in response to a disaster or incident of national significance. The section is tasked with responding to requests for support, such as meals, water and medical supplies, mass care services and/or temporary housing. The logistics section is responsible for coordinating the distribution of these resources.
11. Planning Section :
Responsible for planning EOC operations and overseeing administrative functions necessary to maintain operations such as managing the communications center (dispatchers and watch floor personnel) and ensuring that personnel are accounted for within the EOC. This section is also responsible for planning the organization of subordinate facilities within an assigned geographic area.