An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Keeping information flowing in times of turmoil

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jeremy McGuffin
  • 19 AW/PA

During an emergency, response actions are anything but routine. As base responders scramble to help, there is a central command and control team responsible for ensuring the continuity of operations: the Emergency Operations Center.    

Practicing for real world events helps hone the actions needed for an effective response and during a recent major accident response inspection, the EOC was put to the test.

An appointed incident commander has control of the scene. However, if support and information coordination exceeds the capacity of the incident commander, he or she may request the installation commander to activate the EOC.

“The EOC receives requests from the incident commander and coordinates the support they need,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Werner, 19th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. “We help them resolve the incident and also relay information up to the Crisis Action Team so wing leadership is informed and can make timely strategic decisions.”

Werner serves as the EOC director once it has been activated and he relies on a dedicated team of individuals to make the mission happen.

“The EOC is made up of a director, a manager and 15 emergency support functions,” Werner said. “They include logistics, engineering, security, communications, public health, public affairs and many others.”

Those with authority to make decisions and commit resources for their functional areas serve as the representatives for the emergency support functions and all that information funnels through the EOC manager.

“My role as the EOC manager is to collect information about the incident and provide the EOC director with updates so he can make more informed decisions,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James Archebelle, 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management Plans and Operations NCOIC. “I inform the EOC director about the support and functional expertise we have as I direct and manage those resources at the incident.”

As with all facets in life and military operations, communication is key.

“Managing the information provides the method to disseminate indications and warnings, make tactical decisions at an incident site, and formulate operational decisions regarding multi-incident circumstances,” Archebelle said. “Managing that information allows us to limit the distractors prevalent in most incidents as much as possible, allowing the EOC to focus on the mission at hand.”

Not every emergency requires an EOC to be stood up but when it is, they have the resources available to meet any need.

“Because each incident is different, the make-up of the EOC can be tailored to meet the needs of the response,” Werner said.