Question: The next largest line item is $11.7M for a Public Safety Multiuse Facility for Emergency Operations, Communications Continuity of Operations Center, and First Responder Training Center. Can you explain the rationale for building this new center and why current facilities aren’t adequate?
Answer: The past 2 years have shown us the importance of an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during storms as well as climates of heightened public safety conditions (trials) in our area. The 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, and reconstitution. As our community has grown, so have the needs for operations during an emergency.
The current EOC is in the center of the public safety building and does not allow responders to coordinate as defined by FEMA design standards due to the lack of breakout rooms for staff members to utilize for collaborative operational planning. The new facility would be a category 3 storm rated building that will include offices for the current Emergency Management Authority staff allowing the facility to be always ready for operations. The facility would also include areas for first responders to sleep, shower and cook during activations.
The facility would further serve a dual role and be used as a training facility and meeting location when not in use for emergency operations. Additional bays attached to the EOC would allow the county boats and a mobile command vehicle to be secured and stored undercover. The bays would also provide storage for bulk items needed in a disaster response such as sandbags, traffic control devices and additional rescue equipment.
Included in this scope is also to provide the Information Technology Department (IT) a new datacenter and a network operations center (NOC). This will be an upgraded 900 square foot datacenter taking the place of the current center housed in the Pate Building. Moving servers and networking hardware from its current location will establish a more secure facility, removes flood zone concerns, and allows for a reduced threat of breakdown in business and communications continuity during an emergency.