Remember to Social Distance in the EOC

Even in 'normal times,' people get sick working in the EOC.

by Eric Holdeman / March 24, 2020

A truism from my own military and civilian experience in working in command centers and Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) is that if you have an extended activation of 10-14 days, everyone who is working in the facility starts to get sick. Cramped quarters, tens, scores and even hundreds of people rotating through the EOC on multiple 24/7 shifts and myriad people touching the same phones, tabletops and speaking to one another in close proximity is sure to spread a virus. Add in stress, lack of sleep and good nutrition, and I can't think of a better breeding ground than a preschool classroom. Do you put your pen in your mouth?

Which brings us to today. EOCs will have to be open to help coordinate all the resource requests and operational awareness functions performed by an EOC. DO NOT TRY TO OPERATE AS NORMAL! I've already heard of one major state not implementing social distancing in their EOC. As I told the person I was talking to, "You are all going to get sick!"

It will be hard, I know, but you can't perform your mission if all of your workers start dropping like flies. If there were enough masks to go around, I'd put one on everyone and get that six feet of space going. Spread people out to different rooms and implement work from home for those that can do so. 

Emergency managers have to do their part to limit the spread of the disease and maintain the capability to respond. If you don't, you will have to reorganize the EOC and have sections for those not infected yet, a section and space for those "isolating in place" and another for those not yet testing positive in the "quarantine section." 

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