Construction completed on new EOC in Iowa

The Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management Department recently announced the completion of a new Emergency Operations Center in Ames meant to improve the city's ability to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Charles Cychosz, the police chief of Ames, said the EOC space will be used on a day-to-day basis as a briefing area for the police department, office space for department support staff and a multimedia training room. During the early stages of an emergency, the space can be modified to monitor the situation and scale up operations.

"Our citizens have come to expect a rapid and effective mobilization of emergency responses, timely communication, and orderly transition through the various stages of a large-scale emergency," Cychosz said. "An expanded EOC will improve our capability to prepare and respond to an incident."

The new facility includes electronic communications, field monitoring, mapping and reporting tools that are compatible with systems at Iowa State University, allowing for continued collaboration between the two.

The EOC project was funded by a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a $552,500 contribution from the city of Ames. HSEMD administered and aided the city in meeting the requirements of the grant.

Cychosz said the assistance of Lisa Sexton, the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness program director for HSEMD, was invaluable in helping the city through all phases of the project.

"In addition to the technical assistance we received on EOC capabilities, we found HSEMD and Lisa to be critical in our efforts to understand and comply with Department of Homeland Security expectations on this project," Cychosz said.

The HSEMD works to make Iowa more prepared for man-made and natural disasters.