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Emergency Management is Planning to Save Your Life

 


Huntsville - Madison County, Alabama
Emergency Management Agency
Emergency Operations Center




A view of the operations area in the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Operations Center

 

The Emergency Management staff is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When emergency situations arise, an assessment is made to determine the extent of response necessary, and all staff members are notified. If the emergency requires coordination between different agencies and organizations (such as severe weather or a chemical spill), emergency operations are initiated. The appropriate contact personnel from government and volunteer organizations are notified and emergency plans are put into action. On average, the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency staff is involved in emergency operations at least once every five days.

During an emergency which poses a threat to life or property or in the aftermath of such an emergency, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated.

The EOC is where coordinated response to emergencies and disasters begin. Key personnel from emergency response groups, volunteer organizations, and Emergency Management come to the EOC to manage and coordinate the efforts of response workers in the field. Each organization has a part to play in the response and recovery stage of any disaster. Reports from field emergency workers are recorded and forwarded to the appropriate agency or departmental representative in the EOC to aid in the decision making process. For coordination purposes, our EOC is staffed with Emergency Management personnel and with representatives from other departments and agencies - such as police, Sheriff's deputies, Alabama DOT, school safety and security personnel, even elected officials, etc. - as the situation warrants.

The EOC is also where information is collected, evaluated, and displayed. The EOC is an information and communications center where elected officials and managers can obtain information about a situation as it develops so that proper decisions can be made to protect the public, and resources can be allocated to the appropriate locations. Emergency public information is also passed on to the news media immediately, so that the public can be informed of emergency situations and decisions in a timely manner.

The EOC is the place where the establishment of priorities occurs and where those priorities are matched with emergency response functions and resources for the maximum benefit to the community. During emergencies or disasters, a determination must be made of the greatest needs in our community and resources must be committed to handle those needs. It is important that all of the different agencies involved be able to coordinate and maximize their resources and personnel, so that effective and efficient response and recovery can occur in all affected areas.

Sometimes, emergencies or disasters may occur which exhaust all of the city's or county's resources. That is when mutual aid may be requested from outside the city and county. Additional equipment and/or personnel assets may be required from another county, the State of Alabama, or the Federal government. The request for mutual aid must always come from the Emergency Management Agency.

During extended operations (such as a tornado touchdown or a winter storm) the staff is operational 24 hours a day until the threat diminishes or until recovery has progressed to a point that we can phase down operations. Once emergency operations are initiated, your Emergency Management staff and representatives from other necessary response groups will continue to coordinate response efforts, manage the flow of information, and assist the public by every means available until conditions can return to normalcy.

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