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Don’t Use Your Cellphone in the EOC

Not if you are 24/7, anyway.

Earlier this month I shared this International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Disaster Zone column here in this blog: “Managing Shift Change in the EOC.”

I should have added one other consideration to 24/7 EOC operations: the use of cellphones. My partner in crime on this is Diane Newman, my former deputy director for the King County Office of Emergency Management and also formerly of the Seattle Office of Emergency Management. Before holding those positions she was the operations program manager at KCOEM.

She noted to me the other day the proliferation of the use of cellphones in emergency operations centers. There are plenty of reasons for this. They let you be mobile as you can move around a room and always be available for a phone call or coordination, and people have your number and they know how to reach you.

The problem with this situation is that if you are operating 24/7 you will eventually leave the facility and take your cellphone and that number with you. When another EOC or agency calls to make coordination, with the logistics section for instance, you will be getting that call at night at home while you are trying to get six hours of sleep before coming back to the EOC the next day.

You need to use the desk phone that is provided as the main number for coordination of the function that you represent in the EOC. Unless of course you want to be that 24/7 person who collapses around day three or four after trying to stay awake that long.

The German Army issued amphetamines to their troops in World War II to boost their soldiers’ abilities in sustained operations. That I suppose is another option, should you choose to pursue it. You might want to keep that cabinet locked up!
Disaster Zone by Eric Holdeman is dedicated to sharing information about the world of emergency management and homeland security.
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