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Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management Tests New Emergency Operations Center

Exercise included over 100 community members; tested responses to natural disaster situations
Greene Co. Emergency Ops Center
Inside the Emergency Operations Center/credit: Greene Co. Office of Emergency Management

The Springfield Greene County Office of Emergency Management conducted a day long functional disaster exercise of its new Emergency Operations Center Thursday. The four hour exercise, dubbed “Twisted Twister,” took six months to design. As KSMU’s Samuel Crowe reports, the exercise analyzed the practicality and operational readiness of the new facility by testing the responses of various participants to 155 different natural disaster scenarios, or “injects.”

It was the first time that members of the community were able to get together in one place, interact with each other, and test their abilities to communicate and problem solve in times of crises. Mayor Bob Stephens said these training sessions only increase officials’ confidence levels to manage these hectic situations in real life.

The 124 participants came from various local, public and private organizations, including Mercy and Cox hospitals, City Utilities, the Police and Fire departments, and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, says Dale Moore, Public Information Officer for Office of Emergency Management.

“The idea was to put all the partners together, let them see a tornado scenario going through a particular part of town, with a certain level of damage, and then how we would react to that. So the 155 injects really give you the level of storm readiness training,” Moore said.

Other injects included a potential train wreck resulting in an ammonia spill, as well as large scale evacuations and power outages. It was the first opportunity officials had to test the capabilities of the new center, and according to Moore, the participants passed each injection successfully.

This training session was the first opportunity the Office of Emergency Management had to fully test the capabilities of the EOC, and they found a couple minor logistical glitches. More internet bandwidth is needed to handle the load of information that hits the Information Center during disaster situations. And participants inside the center asked for more pens and paper, as well as one more computer monitor to observe social media.

But Dale Moore point out that these are all easy fixes, and they beat the old Emergency Operations Center, which wasn’t big enough to physically accommodate all the players involved in solving disaster situations. He says a higher quality operations center and a well-trained community will ultimately serve the best interest of the public when disaster strikes.

For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.