An Emergency Operations Center, or EOC, is a central command and control facility responsible for carrying out the principles of emergency preparedness and emergency management, or disaster management functions at a strategic level in an emergency situation, and ensuring the continuity of operation of a company, political subdivision or other organization. An EOC is responsible for the strategic overview, or "big picture", of the disaster, and does not normally directly control field assets, instead making operational decisions and leaving tactical decisions to lower commands. The common functions of all EOC's is to collect, gather and analyze data; make decisions that protect life and property, maintain continuity of the organization, within the scope of applicable laws; and disseminate those decisions to all concerned agencies and individuals.
When a large scale event has occurred, it is important that the response be coordinated. This generally means activating the Emergency Operations Center to assure central coordination, and support to activities such as; public official alerting, care and shelter, evacuation, search and rescue, resource mobilization and recovery operate effectively.
Activation of the OA/EOC is required by the California Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) under the following conditions:
- On the request by a local government or county agency
- Two cities proclaiming a local emergency
- County Emergency Proclamation and a City Local Emergency Proclamation
- Request by any member of the OA for Governor's Proclamation
- State of Emergency proclaimed in Orange County or the State of California
- Request for Outside Resources by a member of the OA
The EOC can accommodate a staff up to 140 responders working in 12-hour shifts throughout activation. This emergency response and recovery staff is comprised of County agencies/departments personnel and members from the Operational Area. The EOC has emergency power, food, water and supplies to support emergency responders for an extended period of time in a catastrophic event. The rooms at the EOC include the following:
The Command Center policy group directs emergency response and recovery. Executive and management staff from agencies such as the Sheriff's Department, Orange County Fire Authority, Health Care Agency, County Executive Office, County Counsel, Social Services Agency, OC Public Works, OC Waste and Recycling, Probation, and a member of the Board of Supervisors comprise this policy group.
The Operations Chief directs staff from a variety of public agencies and coordinates with liaisons from non-county agencies such as the American Red Cross, California Highway Patrol, Caltrans and the Water Emergency Response Organization of Orange County who all have seats in the EOC. The Operations Chief maintains contact with emergency responders at the scene of an incident, helping to coordinate efforts and requests for mutual aid. The Planning/Intelligence Chief directs efforts to collect information on the extent of damages developing an appropriate action plan. The Planning/Intelligence Section also updates the State regarding the current status of emergency conditions. The Logistics Chief takes the lead in providing services, personnel and equipment in support of emergency operations. The Finance Chief has the overall responsibility for developing financial documentation of the emergency and establishing funding authorities.
A variety of support functions are carried out in the support center. One of the most important support functions is the Public Information Hotline. The Hotline Staff operates a bank of telephones designed to help relieve the load on 9-1-1 police and fire lines in an emergency.