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What is the EOC?


Emergency Operations Center

The EOC provides a central location from which government at any level can provide inter-agency coordination and executive decision making in support of an incident response.

An EOC is a gathering place for operations, monitoring, communications, warning systems, and decision making. Decisionmaking at the EOC affects the incident response as well as the public response. The decisions made at the EOC are not tactical decisions, however. Tactical decisions are made by the Incident Commander and the Command Staff at the incident scene.

The EOC does not command or control the on-scene response. The EOC carries out the coordination function through:

  • Information collection and evaluation.
  • Priority setting.
  • Resource management.

There are three modes of operations in the EOC:

  1. Standby – Daily status, no active incidents or weather but systems remain ready.
  2. Partial Activation – Limited personnel monitoring or managing a local event, weather situation or smaller emergency incident.
  3. Full Activation – Numerous parties are working from the EOC as a major event is expected or has occurred.

Individuals from the following departments may be called upon to fulfill a critical role in the EOC:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Fire Service
  • E911 and Emergency Dispatches
  • Public Health
  • Public works or Departments of Transportations 
  • Non- Government Organizations (NGO'S)

  • Elected and Appointed Officials

As you may expect, the EOC can be a very busy place but it is this necessary coordination between many community stakeholders that can most effectively handle a crisis.

Below is an example of emergency management and the EOC in Fairfax County, VA:

Emergency Support Functions and Liaisons

Tuscaloosa County EMA (TCEMA) primarily  operates where agency responsibilities have been functionally aligned according to the Emergency Support Function (ESF) concept. Under this concept, developed by FEMA in 1992, types of assistance that are most likely needed in the aftermath of a major disaster are functionally grouped into ESFs. Each ESF is headed by a primary agency which is selected based on its authorities, resources, capabilities and the location of the Disaster at hand.


ESF #1 - Transportation



ESF #2 - Communications




ESF #3 - Public Works




ESF #4 – Firefighting





ESF #5 - Information and Planning



ESF #6 – Mass Care




ESF #7 – Resource Support



ESF #8 – Health and Medical Services




ESF #9 – Search and Rescue



ESF #10 – Hazardous Materials



ESF #11 – Food and Water



ESF #12 – Utilities



ESF #13 – Military Support




ESF #14 – Public Information



ESF #15 – Volunteers and Donations



ESF #16 – Law Enforcement




ESF #17 – Animal Services





ESF #18 – Business and Industry




ESF #19 – Damage Assessment

ESF #1 provides overall management, coordination and prioritization, of government (Federal, State or local) and private transportation resources to meet the requirements of disaster assistance organizations responding to a Tuscaloosa County event. 


ESF #2 plans, coordinates, and assists in communications support to county and local emergency response elements. This ESF also coordinates the communications assets (both equipment and services) available from State agencies, voluntary groups, County agencies, the telecommunications industry, Federal government agencies, and the U.S. military. ESF #2 is the focal point of all communications support activity at the county level before, during and after activation of the County Emergency Operations Center (EOC).


ESF# 3 provides technical advice and services utilizing the public works personnel, equipment and resources of the designated primary and support agencies. ESF #3 provides these services to the areas of Tuscaloosa County impacted by an event, as well as assisting affected municipalities within the county with similar services when necessary. ESF #3 is primarily responsible for public works assistance and services in all unincorporated areas of the county, as well as for roadways and components of the infrastructure owned or operated by the county within its municipalities.


ESF #4 addresses control and coordination of fire suppression and prevention actions undertaken at the time of a major emergency or disaster threatening or impacting Tuscaloosa County or several of its municipalities. This ESF addresses firefighting activities conducted when other county ESFs are also activated to respond to and recovery from an emergency or disaster event. This ESF does not address the normal day-to-day firefighting operations by Tuscaloosa County or any of its municipalities, but only those conducted during events requiring multi-jurisdictional operations and warranting the activation of  the EOC.


ESF #5 addresses those procedures and actions that will be taken within the EOC to facilitate information flow within and to outside locations and facilities, as well as to support strategic planning actions by the EOC during county-wide response and recovery operations.


ESF #6 addresses the management and coordination of emergency services necessary for the care and support of individuals displaced by a disaster event in Tuscaloosa County. The scope of this ESF encompasses sheltering of individuals evacuating threatened areas, as well as providing care for disaster victims remaining in damaged areas experiencing prolonged disruption to utilities and other fundamental community services. This could be the American Red Cross, Department of Human Resources (DHR) or another organization that helps provide this support.


ESF #7 provides coordination and/or provision of logistical and resource support for emergency response and recovery operations to other county ESFs and impacted municipalities within the county  for an emergency or disaster situation affecting Tuscaloosa County.


ESF #8 is responsible for the coordination of health and medical services necessary for the public affected by a disaster, as well as emergency workers engaged in response and recovery activities within the county for that event. The health and medical services to be provided include medical and mental health services for disaster victims and emergency workers. Environmental Health Services will coordinate services related to detecting and correcting environmental dangers to aid in the reduction of environmental health risks in the aftermath of a disaster.


ESF #9 provides the coordination for search and rescue operations during emergencies and disaster occurring within Tuscaloosa County.


ESF #10 involves response to hazardous materials incidents that result in damages and disruptions caused by or resulting from other disaster events, whether natural or man-made in origin. ESF #10 would also be utilized to coordinate the response to a major hazardous materials release occurring separately from other hazard events, whether caused by an accident or an intentional criminal act.


ESF #11 identifies, secures and arranges for the acquisition, transportation and distribution of food, ice and water following a disaster. Food, water and ice supplies will be made available for disaster victims and emergency workers in affected areas, at facilities activated for the response and recovery effort, and at on-scene locations, as indicated. Food and beverages obtained and distributed by ESF #11 will be prepared and served by ESF #6 Mass Care.


ESF #12 coordinates response and recovery efforts by Tuscaloosa County to address emergency power, water and wastewater, and energy needs before, during and after a disaster.


Due to the uniqueness of military support, ESF #13 coordinates the use of military resources (Department of Defense and Alabama National Guard) to support the needs of local governments, voluntary organizations, and other ESFs in performance of their emergency support role during response, recovery and assistance missions in a major or catastrophic emergency.


ESF #14 provides for the coordination of emergency instructions and public information emanating from Tuscaloosa County at the time of a disaster. This ESF defines the procedures and concepts that will be used by the County for developing and disseminating information and instructions to the public regarding emergency situations, as well as to assist and support the print, electronic and broadcast media in obtaining information regarding the event. This may be done through a Joint Information Center (JIC) or Individual Public Information Officers (PIOs).


ESF #15 encompasses soliciting selected goods or services to be donated; coordinating the receipt, sorting and storing of donated goods, whether solicited or unsolicited; assigning volunteers to response and recovery operations; and distributing donated goods to support agencies and directly to disaster victims.


ESF #16 includes traffic and crowd control, maintaining civil order, looting prevention, building and shelter security, search and rescue, evacuation support and other services needed to provide for the safety and security of the general public and the protection of property. The scope of ESF 16 further includes enforcement of any emergency ordinances or temporary regulations imposed due to the event or its impacts. ESF #16 will also undertake to ensure the security of emergency workers, as well as facilities and locations activated for response and recovery efforts.


ESF #17 defines the policies, procedures and responsibilities for coordination of operations to assist the citizens of Tuscaloosa County, local law enforcement and volunteer organizations to protect domestic animals, livestock, and pets affected by disaster, and to provide for control of wildlife displaced by the impacts of the event. ESF #17 provides for emergency medical care, evacuation, rescue, temporary confinement, shelter, identification for return to the owner for domestic animals and pets. ESF #17 also serves to protect citizens from the hazards caused by displaced, threatening or infected animals during and after a disaster, including the diagnosis, prevention, and control of animal-borne disease of public health significance. Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter will also play a key role in the support effort.


ESF #18 defines the policies, procedures and responsibilities for coordination of local actions that will provide immediate and short-term assistance for the needs of business, industry, and economic stabilization. ESF #18 grants TCEMA the ability to provide guidance to and coordination of issues within the business community during all hazards and all phases of emergency management.


ESF #19 is responsible for the development of initial estimates of the impact of a disaster event, as well as the detailed damage estimates of public and private structures and components of the County’s infrastructure after a damaging emergency. This will be carried out by TCEMA and its volunteers.