The Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) recently opened a new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) or hospital command center used by emergency responders during training. The EOC provides a modern learning environment with technology commonly found in EOCs nationwide.

The EOC serves as a critical location for key organizational personnel. Operational decisions that influence tactical decisions in the field are driven from the EOC. As improvements in CDP training venues continue, the EOC provides healthcare workers the capability to coordinate hospital functions during a patient surge.

The EOC is located at the Noble Training Facility (NTF) and serves as the hospital's central command and control during student training exercises. The NTF is the only hospital facility in the United States dedicated solely to training. There, healthcare, public health, and environmental health professionals train for mass casualty events.

The enhanced EOC measures approximately 4,500 square feet and is arranged in three separate command groups: the center group is on a raised platform and is operated by the central Incident Command leadership. Public Health, facilities and security share the two remaining areas. Additionally, the EOC has a watchroom, a large conference room, two private offices, and a break area.

"The NTF provides our healthcare community an opportunity to experience an actual surge of patients from a mass casualty event," said Chuck Medley, assistant director of Training and Education. "The EOC is an upgrade from the small room we used in the past and gives our healthcare students a dynamic EOC environment to assist them in refining their operational capability."

The EOC, during any disaster or incident, provides a central location to direct and manage response and recovery operations. Like a traditional EOC, the NTF operations center is organized by top-level emergency managers to first-line supervisors. From the Incident Commander to the logistics staff, each person involved in directing and decision making has a place and a role in the EOC.

This EOC is equipped with 33 computers that operate on a central server. Students also have 67 handheld radios to maintain communications between EOC members and other classmates responsible for carrying out a realistic response during an end-of-course exercise. The EOC is equipped with more than 30 landlines so that students can make and receive calls from within the NTF. The EOC is also equipped with four projectors and large-screen LED televisions that allow EOC staff to present and receive professional briefs and updates. The center also has a fully operational media center with the capability to conduct live closed-circuit press broadcasts throughout the operation. Furthermore, students also have access to a printer, fax machine, and Internet service, as well.

"I like the arrangement or separation of the command staff and other sections," said Ginger Sharrow, director of nursing for the Maniilaq Health Center, Kotzebue, Alaska. "I'm from a very small hospital and I'm not familiar with something this large. I think this is impressive and everyone would like to have [an EOC] like this."

The CDP training focuses on incident management, mass casualty response, and emergency response to a catastrophic natural disaster or terrorist act. Healthcare courses are provided at the Noble Training Facility (NTF). The former U.S. Army hospital was converted into a training site for health and medical education in disasters and mass casualty events. CDP training for state, local, and tribal responders is fully funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.