The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) serves a critical role in every phase of emergency management, from being the hub for all coordination during an incident to facilitating and directing recovery/clean-up. However, the EOC does not manage an incident — it coordinates.
Various situations will trigger the EOC’s opening, including emergencies that require resources beyond what local capabilities can handle; lengthy crisis situations; when major policy decisions will or might be needed; when a local or state emergency is declared; and when the EOC’s activation will be advantageous to successful management of an incident.
The Emergency Operations Center
The EOC is the centralized location of emergency response and recovery support operations during incidents. While tactical on-scene operations are conducted from the ICP, the EOC supports and helps coordinate ICP operations and any other adjacent incident operations.
The EOC utilizes ICS as the command-and-control structure. Within this structure, the EOC is organized into five sections to manage operations. These EOC sections include:
- Management: Under the guidance of the EOC coordinator, this section has overall responsibility for the management and direction of all EOC activities including development, implementation and review of strategic decisions. Management directly coordinates with the EPG and ensures its strategic direction is implemented in EOC operations.
- Operations: This section represents on-scene emergency responders and provides coordination between the EOC and field operations, including the ICP.
- Planning and Intelligence: This section is responsible for receiving, evaluating and analyzing all disaster information and providing updated status reports to EOC management and field operations. The planning and intelligence section is also responsible for damage assessment and developing specialized technical assessments of events.
- Logistics: Logistics is responsible for procuring supplies, personnel and material support necessary to conduct emergency responses (e.g. personnel call-out, equipment acquisition, lodging, transportation, food, etc.).
- Finance and Administration Section: The section handles cost accountability, purchase authorizations, documentation and risk assessment.
In order to manage the roles and responsibilities of each section, each EOC Section comprises specific functions called units and branches and is overseen by EOC section chiefs, who report directly to the EOC coordinator or the campus emergency director. Depending on the scope of an incident, some or all functions of a section may be activated.
The EOC Team
The EOC Team members are university personnel who staff the EOC during emergency response operations. The makeup of the EOC Team may depend on the specific incident and. In some cases the EOC Team will be pre-identified, while in other cases, potential EOC Team members will be requested to serve in the EOC.
Multiple staff members may be identified to fill the same position so EOC Team members can rotate during prolonged incidents.
Executive Policy Group
The EPG comprises senior university administration members responsible for providing policy direction to incident command and setting broad priorities as they relate to responding to and recovering from emergency incidents. Additional responsibilities of the EPG include:
- Working directly with the campus emergency director to determine when the EOC will be activated and when to demobilize;
- Providing updates and communicating with stakeholders, elected officials, the University of California Office of the President and regulatory agencies;
- Conveying the chancellor’s priorities to the incident commander to help address the crisis;
- Maintaining situational awareness of the incident to include spillover effects;
- Liaising with city/county/regional leaders and affected interest groups;
- Providing policy-level decision making regarding fiscal, procurement, legal, academic and communications;
- Communicating policy-level decisions to relevant department heads and staff members who are indirectly impacted by the incident; and
- Providing guidance on messaging to staff, students, affected groups and the broader community.
During incidents, individual EPG members are responsible for coordinating their division’s response to the spillover effects of an incident. This effort must be coordinated with the EOC to avoid duplication of efforts and to effectively use the university’s limited resources. Spillover issues are those that the EOC does not have the capacity to address, may not rise to a level needing EOC attention or may be best addressed directly by a division for any number of reasons. The divisions represented within the EPG include:
- Chancellor's Office
- Associate Chancellor and Chief of Staff
- Campus Counsel
- Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
- Division of Physical Operations and Planning
- Division of Student Affairs
- Division of Finance and Administration
- Division of Research
- Division of External Relations
Table 11 provides a more detailed overview of the roles and responsibilities of the positions in the EOC represented in Figure 1.
Table 11: EOC Roles and Responsibilities
Roles and Responsibilities
- Overall management of the incident
- Manages response by coordinating all members of the EOC, EPG and field units
- Assesses incident priorities
- Assesses resources needs and orders
- Coordinates with outside agencies
- Approves demobilixation of resources
- Designates a leader fo reach of the EOC sections
- Facilitates the transition from the response phase of the emergency into the recovery phase
- Conducts post-incident analysis meeting and coordinates after-action reports
- Responsible for facilitating the overall functioning of the EOC
- Assists and serves as an advisor to the emergency director and EOC staff as needed
- Communicates between EOC and other agencies
- Coordinates logistics of VIP and visitor orientations and briefings
- Implements all policy and laws as they relate to the campus crisis or disaster
- Assists in the implementation of policy strategies developed to mitigate the effects of the crisis or disaster
- Establishes a priority list of issues that reference specific crisis and/or disaster situations
- Approves all communications initiatives and emergency directions
- Maintains liaison with the city of Merced, Merced County, state of California, and all federal responding agencies
- Monitors and assesses hazardous and unsafe situations for staff that might arise during incident response
- Provides a safety briefing and enforces safety protocol
- Ensures safety concerns and protocols are incorporated into incident plans
- Needs to be familiar with possible hazards and following safety policy
- Coordinates on-scene tactical operations and organizes tactical operations structures, depending on the incident, such as separate response groups or branches
- Collects information from on-scene tactical operations and regularly keeps EOC Team updated with status, actions and progress of operations
- Identifies additional incident response resource needs, such as more response staff or equipment
- Coordinates with and notifies outside agencies providing tactical support, such as city and county law enforcement and fire
- Develops Emergency Operations Center Action Plan (EOCAP) documentation
- Conducts damage assessments and develops specialized technical assessments of the event if necessary
- Develops incident response schedule, such as operational periods or shifts
- Plans for resource needs in upcoming operationsl periods or shifts
- Plans for eventual demobilization or de-escalation of incident response
- Plans for short and long-term incident recovery
- Collects, develops and maintains incident planning documentation as it relates to:
- situation crisis
- action planning
- Provides equipment and logistical support, such as helping secure a location for the EOC, and provide necessary communications and information technology equipment
- Helps identify resource needs, such as additional personnel, equipment, transportation and housing/shelter and contacts vendors
- Collects, organizes and prioritizes requests for additional resources
- Maintains and organizes communications equipment
- Coordinates with finance/administration section to ensure payment for resources
- Responsible for coordination of food for EOC Team and other identified response personnel
- Manages financial, administrative and cost analysis aspects of incident
- Maintains all financial documentation related to incident
- Works closely with planning and logistics section to manage incident spending
- Ensures university employee payroll is documented for incident and can produce reports for recovery
- Develop recovery documentation for FEMA and/or state
- Provide administrative support to EOC Team as needed
- Policy, labor agreement, risk assessment, and state and federal laws interpretation specific to the response to and recovery from the incident
- Serves as legal adviser to:
- Emergency management director
- In an incident that only affects the university, communicates with external stakeholders that might be present but not actively participating in the response, such as the city or county EOC or volunteer organizations such as the American Red Cross
- For larger incidents, the liaison officer integrates into an external incident command structure to coordinate support for the university such as collecting information from the county EOC
- Coordinates with internal university teams such as the DOCs to provide them with information
- Multiple liaison officers may be assigned to specific response organizations
*The PIO will usually function adjacent to the EPG. Depending on the scale of the incident, the PIO may function as a part of the EOC team.
- Coordinates all public communications regarding incident
- Coordinates and develops communications with external stakeholders and media
- Provides timely and accurate information to public, staff and students
- Collects incident information to maintain situational awareness