That flexibility gives the county centralized command during a disaster and space for the entities required to address it, said Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert. That includes everything from fire services, police, HAZMAT, Environmental Services and the Red Cross to Public Health, the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, Montgomery County’s water, sewer and trash departments, its engineer’s office and job and family services, Colbert said.
“With all the partners that we have in here ... we can dispatch medical to people, we can do search and rescue. We can do debris removal. We can do all the things that we need to dispatch to any part of the county that needs services,” he said. “Each of the community partners will have a station, so like when we had the tornado and power was out, each of the community partners will have a station to deploy resources where we need to go and because the building has (power) generation ... we can have power when nobody else does.”
Those agencies worked together three years ago during the water outage, the tornadoes and the Oregon District shooting, but now, with the new EOC, they can work together in a facility with better technology, space and power, Colbert said.
“The backup generation for this building is huge because ... we’ve got a massive generator that can power this building for a long run,” Colbert said.
The new EOC facility also boasts a dining space, temporary sleeping area, and a call center. It has windows, a feature that was unavailable in the downtown EMA. It also has the structure needed to weather tornadoes and high winds.
The new location separates the new regional Office of Emergency Management from the current one in Dayton, which county officials last week said was aimed at “ensuring response availability if one of the locations is inaccessible or if emergency power goes down.”
A larger and more open space also means a greater area for Emergency Management personnel and first responders to receive training, according to Brittany Fain, Montgomery County director of Risk, Safety and Emergency Management. Previously, staff were required to travel to Columbus or Cincinnati for training, Fain said.
“That’s a day trip and that often limited who we could send, how many people we could send or if we can even attend,” she said. “Now we’ll be able to be that hub right here and we’ll be able to bring individuals from all over West Central Ohio, all the way up to Toledo, which is another area that is often limited in their access to training, and they can come right here and be able to access the most innovative and cutting-edge ideas that we would not otherwise be able to have.”
The renovated facility on the second floor of the building provides offices for Office of Emergency Management personnel just below the Regional Dispatch Center, where 9-1-1 calls are answered, and first responders are dispatched.
Having the EOC in the same building as the dispatch center “means a lot,” said Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck.
“Even though the RDC only dispatches for 65% of the county, we now have some other large dispatch centers that we all share the same CAD, computer aided dispatch, so that raises it to about 78% of the county,” Streck said. “We can all look at each other’s screens and see what’s going on, so now the EMA will have the ability to have people on the third floor saying ‘Englewood has this available, Clayton has this available.’ That’s just one of the positive things we’ll be able to do. It’s a good thing. It’s been a long time coming.”