The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Coordinator is responsible for “[setting up the] facility, [providing] available supplies, communications and other equipment, and [monitoring] communications flow through FAX and email [, as well as] establishes and manages a system of EOC and field runners, and manages the check-in area for EOC staff [and] provides assistance to the EOC Director as necessary” (University of Alaska, Anchorage, 2008, p. 9). The EOC Coordinator supports the function of the EOC but is not directly involved in the decision-making processes of the incident management team. The most important function of the EOC Coordinator, however, is to ensure that all lines of communication to and from the EOC are operating correctly and have redundancy in place, usually in the form of low-tech ham radio operation teams (Walsh et al., 2012).
In this scenario (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.), a bomb was activated in a train station and a request for additional coordination was made by the local incident commander. In order to minimize the loss of life and property, the EOC Coordinator should ensure that the EOC is ready for mobilization (Walsh et al., 2012). Three important steps towards this goal are 1) ensuring all avenues of communication, whether technical or analog, are functioning properly, 2) ensuring all network and computer terminals are functional with appropriate redundancies (i.e. whiteboards, poster paper, etc.), and 3) ensuring food and beverage stocks are adequate for three 24-hour operational periods, which would allow enough time for the Logistics Section to arrange catering as needed.
The goals of the EOC Coordinator are to ensure that the EOC is ready to support the operational needs of the incident command structure. The goal of the incident command system is to respond to and deal with actual emergencies. There are times, however, that the emergencies will be so encompassing that the current continuity of government (whether local, state, or federal) will be threatened. It is the function of the EOC Coordinator to ensure that there are clear lines of communication to government officials off-site, as well as clearly written orders of succession available on-site, in the case of catastrophic governmental failure. There also needs to be clearly documented continuity plans located on-site involving facilities, communications, and delegation of authority in the event of EOC failure or separation from governmental control (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2008a, 2008b; Walsh et al., 2012).
In addressing this scenario, it has occurred to me that, although the federal government has directed the use of common language, titles, and job descriptions, many still confuse the functions of NIMS. The EOC Coordinator and the EOC Director are frequently confused with each other, yet they are clearly two separate job titles with two unique and important functions. These functions are also frequently confused with the unified command structure that may use the EOC from time to time to manage small local multi-agency incidents.
Laureate Education, Inc. (n.d.). Critical incidents and cross-agency coordination: North metro rail line scenario [media]. Retrieved from http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/CRJS/4302/03/mm/metrorailscenario/index.html
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2008a, January). National response framework. Retrieved from http://www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nrf/nrf-core.pdf
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2008b, February). Federal continuity directive 1 (FCD 1): Federal executive branch national continuity program and requirements. Retrieved from http://www.fema.gov/pdf/about/offices/fcd1.pdf
University of Alaska, Anchorage. (2008, April). Emergency operations plan. Retrieved from http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/facultyservices/upload/UAA-Emergency-Operations-Plan.pdf
Walsh, D. W., Christen, H. T., Callsen, C. E., Miller, G. T., Maniscalco, P. M., Lord, G. C., & Dolan, N. J. (2012). National Incident Management System: principles and practice (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.