Setting up your Emergency Operations Centre for Success

During the 2018 floods, the Emergency Operations Centre was activated in the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS), and they went into a cycle of set up, situation analysis, accounting for people, and accounting for resources. Since the local towns and villages had already initiated a response, they had very little information about what was being used, who agreed to use them and how much it was costing them.

Fortunately, they were able to collect this information in a short period of time and start the tracking process. Here is how they streamline their processes and connected 800 resources spread over 10,000 square kilometers.

What they accomplished:

1. Onboard over 800 responders and their teams.

2. Integrated Field Communications into the Incident Command structure.

3. Established a mandatory communication procedure

4. Developed processes for recording accurate deployment schedules for all personnel and contractors.

5. Validated these schedules against actual activity in real-time, immediately identifying discrepancies and deviance from the plan.

6. Developed a process to plan, record and track the deployment of equipment and material resources in the field, thereby avoiding redundancies and unnecessary costs.

7. Created a complete inventory of contractors and responders for the next incident.

This worked great using YodelME however, with a few extra steps, you can accomplish most of this using regular SMS (text messages) as long as the cell service and internet remain intact.

If you don’t have YodelME, here are the 10 steps so you can do it with SMS or Text Messages:

1. Provide a single cellphone number for your EOC to receive SMS messages only.

2. When you receive the first message from someone new, ask them for their full contact information and add them to your contacts.

3. Send them a contract to the email they provided to establish rates and availability. Tip: use DocuSign or other programs and they can complete the form on their phone.

4. Message them a short check-in procedure

5. Add cell phone numbers for Operations and Logistics to the thread and make sure they understand that it is for SMS only.

6. Ask for situation updates along with their check-ins

7. Ask them to share their locations using that feature on their phones.

8. Each section monitors their phone for messages and responds accordingly.

9. To generate a record, there are many third-party software solutions that will allow you to download the SMS history of the EOC’s phones and export it to excel.

10. Compare the messages to time sheets using excel.

I hope you have a far better understanding of your needs and opportunities around communications in the EOC. Above all, I hope you understand that you can implement these changes on your own and we would be happy to help you with that. No obligations! If there’s still something I didn’t explain fully, ANY unanswered question, or any way I can help you start saving time and effort – please give me a call right away at 1.855.YodelME (963.3563)