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Emergency Preparedness Communications

NCJ Number
Homeland Defense Journal Volume: 5 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2007 Pages: 44,46,48,49
Don Philpott
Date Published
June 2007
4 pages
Using Hurricane Katrina and the Virginia Tech shootings as case examples, this article describes the critical elements for emergency communications.
Two key elements are involved in planning for emergency communications: (1) the emergency communications center, and (2) emergency communications system. However, the author notes that when planning for an emergency, it is critical to plan for the worst, which is that the communications center and system may not be available. A model emergency communications center is described, which is based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The mission of the EOC is to act as the nerve center in the event of a disaster, attack, or other incident of national significance. The EOC works to create an infrastructure that supports a highly effective emergency response. The EOC has the capacity to control five different emergencies at one time. However, after Hurricane Katrina one fact became apparent: it cannot be assumed that during a disaster an emergency operation center will be there and ready to operate. A solution has come in the form of PIER, which put everything that a communications teams would need on a secured online platform, such as contact lists, media lists, stakeholders, and relevant data and information – a virtual emergency operations center. In order to create a PIER, incidents must be anticipated and all the information needed for those incidents must be put into place on the online platform so it is ready and waiting for use.