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Jun 12, 2019Back to Veoci Blog
At Veoci, I’m lucky enough to work side by side with subject matter experts not only in emergency management, but emergency management from the perspective of a large university. This helps us improve Veoci and stay on the cutting edge of what the job requires in day-to-day and emergency operations.
Learning what’s behind planning, testing, and EOC activations from my team members is such a valuable opportunity, but I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be front and center in an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). So, when this exact opportunity presented itself to me and my colleagues, we accepted without hesitation. I’ve always found that experience is the best teacher.
I realized immediately what a unique opportunity this was. Not only was this university using Veoci in their EOC for the first time, they were also doing so during one of the largest planned events higher education institutions face: commencement. It's an "all hands on deck" event. An annual event where students, their friends, and their families are all invited to campus demands the full attention of university faculty and staff.
The Incident Commander of the university’s EOC welcomed me and my colleague Veronica Genao into their EOC. While Veronica and I were available to address any questions, few needed to be answered.
Once in the EOC, we planted our chairs next to the Planning Section Chief, who was submitting comments, capturing data, and tracking the response in Veoci, and watched as the activation unfolded.
By all accounts, the activation was very smooth. Outside of a few missed check-ins from security guards and a minor water leak, everything went according to plan. This was a direct testament to the strong planning the Incident Commander and the team put into the commencement ceremony, and also to the incredible work emergency managers do as a whole.
I’ve also learned from my colleagues at Veoci that being an emergency manager requires a readiness for the unexpected, which I was reminded of when officers reported the smell of gas outside the building the EOC was in. Everyone quickly prepared to evacuate the building.
The Incident Commander stopped us after discovering the smell was coming from something stuck behind the refrigerator in the nearby kitchen. The preparedness of the team and their response was still evident through this false alarm. How critical having every piece in place became apparent to me.
EOCs move fast. If I turned my head, I could have easily missed something happening a few chairs down from where I was in the EOC. Emergency management requires a lot of planning and good reflexes. Any tool that can facilitate these core pieces of emergency management in an EOC is a welcome one. But the tools don't always guarantee success.
This field's practitioners are very dedicated to their roles at their respective universities. They also have priceless knowledge from their years of experience. And while I'm able to gather a lot from my colleagues, I was able to continue my learning from the team at this university.
As we were leaving, I thanked the Incident Commander and the team for allowing us to sit in and interact with their EOC. It confirmed, to me, how important it is to have a platform for emergency management. Communication and efficient operations make a noticeable difference during an activation. A common operating picture must form for a response to be successful.
Read more thoughts from our team on emergency response and preparedness: How to Make a Personal Emergency Preparedness Kit
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