New Okla. Emergency Operations Center Nears Completion

New Okla. Emergency Operations Center Nears Completion

News Nov 20, 2017

McAlester News-Capital, Okla.

Nov. 19—The new Pittsburg County Emergency Operations Center is almost complete, with emergency management personnel already operating from the site.

Pittsburg County Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Enloe said some work remains, but the basic building is finished.

"The biggest thing we're working on now is communications," Enloe said, referring to wiring and equipment that still needs to be installed.

A number of Pittsburg County residents will get a chance to see the Emergency Operations Center up-close during the Community Thanksgiving Dinner set for Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, Nov. 23. It's now the new site for the annual community dinner.

The main building complex covers 6,700 square feet, Enloe said. A few changes or upgrades have been made since the submission of the original design.

"I think the finished cost will be right at $4 million," Enloe said. Pittsburg County commissioners approved paying for the facility by using the county's economic development funds.

The building includes offices for the main Emergency Operations Center. When completed it will also house the main dispatch center for emergency responders. It also includes a full kitchen, which will be utilized for the community dinner this week.

Architects designed the Emergency Operations Center's main room to be big enough to hold a large group of officials and responders in case of a major disaster.

"On a full-scale disaster, there will be 54 people in this room," Enloe said.

Continue Reading

During a major disaster, those who could operate from the site include personnel from the offices of Emergency Management, the Pittsburg County Health Department, the Pittsburg County commissioners, the McAlester city manager, law enforcement, search and rescue personnel and others.

"Everybody works right here," Enloe said.

Included in the main room is a wall-long dry-erase board and a number of screens that can double as television or projection screens, as needed.

"You can project different things up there," said Enloe as EOC Deputy Director Lois Lupardus demonstrated how the board can be used by writing on it.

Since the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management considers Pittsburg County a regional hub for disaster responses in Southeastern Oklahoma, the site is also being readied for use as a disaster response site for other counties.

"It may not be our county," said Enloe. "We will be working all of southeastern Oklahoma. For disaster response services, the territory covered includes the area ranging from everything east Interstate 35 to everything south of Interstate 40, Enloe said.

He feels there are advantages to having the regional emergency operations center in Pittsburg County.

"As a regional operations center, it will speed-up or expedite the response in case we have a natural disaster here," Enloe said. "We'll be able to get the services out and address the needs quicker."

"All the decision-making will be in one place," he noted. "We'll also be staging resources here at the facility." That could include generators that might to be placed at the facility in advance of an ice storm, for example.

One room in the facility includes three bunk beds, which would make it easier to operate from the site 24 hours a day, if necessary.

"When working during extended operations, we could have six people sleeping here," Enloe said.

Another room contains the dispatch center, which still needs some work before operators move into the building.

"Six 911 operators will be here eventually," Enloe said.

A nearby room has been designed as a place for the media to gather during an emergency situation for briefings and the relaying of information.

"This is also set up with video-conferencing," Enloe said, in case a video conference is needed with state officials such as the governor.

The Emergency Operations Center is equipped with generators and includes a room with a significant battery backup system to retain critical electronic information in case of a power outage. It's designed to maintain a specific temperature.

"We had to add an additional seven tons of heat and air," Enloe said.

Outside the building, an adjacent area has stations with six RV hookups, with water and electricity, to house emergency responders from additional agencies who may need to operate from the site.

Back inside the building, the kitchen is on the southwest side of the structure. Why is a kitchen, with a full stove and refrigerator needed?

"When we have a disaster, we will bring in the Red Cross and the Baptist Men to cook," Enloe said. If the situation warrants, meals could be cooked at the site and transported to disaster victims.

"In a mandatory evacuation, we have to feed you," Enloe said. Bathing or showering facilities also have to be provided, he said.

In case of a major disease outbreak or a biological disaster, the new EOC Center would also serve as a point of distribution for the Pittsburg County Health Department, Enloe said.

"All the emergency responders would have to get their vaccinations here," he said.

In addition to Lupardus, Hillary Tripp also serves as a deputy director at the EOC. On a routine day, the facility will be operated by Enloe and the two deputies.

The new Emergency Operations Center is off West Street. To reach the facility, turn east off West Street onto EOC Drive, which is currently a gravel roadway that's the first turn north of Electric Avenue. The new Pittsburg County Emergency Operations Center is behind, or to the east of, the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter, and is near the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office.

James Beaty
A reorganization of the WTC Health Program for first responders affected by the toxins at Ground Zero could negatively impact their healthcare.
Sonoma County dispatchers were understaffed and had not been trained in coaching citizens trapped by the wildfires that killed 24 people.
The San Antonio Fire Department has released its position statement on the management of patients with potential spinal injuries.
If passed, the bill will allow medical professionals with firearms training to carry weapons when responding to an event with a SWAT team.
NENA members met with policymakers to discuss major improvements for the 9-1-1 system.
The 2018 ESO EMS index highlights areas of improvement such as documenting stroke assessment, 12-lead EKG use, and aspirin administration.
Retained firefighter Ian Norris is running his final London Marathon in memory of a local doctor to raise vital funds for Wiltshire Air Ambulance.
Users trained in CPR are alerted by the app of people nearby experiencing cardiac arrest.
Stop the Bleed kits are housed in about 345 schools statewide where staff members are also trained in bleeding control techniques.
Gov. Cuomo's 2014 gun control law kept 75,000 mentally ill people from owning firearms, a measure he thinks could save lives around the country.
The need for the program was identified after the Pulse nightclub shooting, when multiple consulates contacted the hospital to see if any of their nationals were victims of the attack.
ACP says a lack of policy on firearms is why the U.S. remains a country with one of the highest rates of gun violence in the world.  
Norwalk firefighters taught citizens CPR in a Valentine's Day-themed class and informed them of AED locations in the city.
Dispatch center communications are expected to evolve in ways that would allow home appliances and wristbands to call 9-1-1 for patients who are unable to do so.
Franklin County Emergency Services Alliance aims to assess the challenges first responders face that cause shortages of EMS providers across the country.