Preparedness & Recovery

Emergency Center Becoming Well-Oiled Machine

Having so many agencies — including the city and county governments, police and fire departments and utility companies — present in the EOC allows a quicker response to problems than otherwise would be possible in an emergency situation.

by Taylor Cooper, The Brunswick News, Ga. / January 4, 2018

(TNS) - Most agencies in the Golden Isles had a representative in the county’s Emergency Operation Center on Wednesday, where they come together and work more closely in emergency situations.

“Since October of 2016, with Hermine, the community has had three opportunities to stand up the EOC,” said Alan Ours, county manager. “There’s a cooperative spirit among the agencies in Glynn County, and while the EOC is only partially open, the agencies know what to do and there’s good communication.”

He said having so many agencies — including the city and county governments, police and fire departments and utility companies — present in the EOC allows them to respond to problems much quicker than otherwise would be possible in an emergency situation.

“That’s the beauty of a partial opening, is having all the decision makers in one room,” Ours said.

As an example, Ours said the Glynn County Police and Public Works departments worked together to find and remove fallen tree limbs.

He added that the repeated need for cooperation has significantly improved the EOC’s efficiency.

Jay Wiggins, Glynn County Emergency Management Agency director, said the amount of cooperation in the EOC Wednesday was amazing.

“It’s difficult when three political subdivisions come together because of the ways they conduct their business, but when we come to business, it’s one fight, one team,” Wiggins said. “Our bonds and our friendships grow even stronger.”

In most of the places he’s worked, employees of different government agencies didn’t work as closely together, Wiggins added. Since Hurricane Matthew, he has come to know many in other agencies personally, and it improved cooperation outside of the EOC as well.

Police Chief John Powell said the people in the EOC have gotten better at what they do every time they’ve been called in.

“I think every time its activated, there’s improvements, because it’s a continual learning process, a continual building of relationships,” Powell said. “The people that come together in here to do businesses are true professionals, and they work toward that goal to make sure everything gets taken care of.”

While there was no need to share resources Wednesday, JWSC Director of Administration Jay Sellers said it's comforting to know there was someone to call on if they needed assistance.

“Though we haven’t had to call in our partner resources, and ours haven’t been requested, it’s helpful to know they’re available,” Sellers said.

Major Greg Post, with the Brunswick Police Department, said he’s glad to have seen the EOC grow since Tropical Storm Hermine into what it is now.

“Before Matthew, we hadn’t had a cooperative EOC environment like this,” Post said. “When you sit in here for multiple days, you get to know these people.”

He echoed Wiggins comments, saying he can pick up the phone and call people from other agencies he hardly knew before Hermine.

Everyone but representatives from emergency response agencies left the EOC at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Wiggins said the operations center will not open Thursday.

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