173rd FW expands emergency response capability

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

The 173rd Fighter Wing has upgraded its emergency operations center, expanding the square footage amid the COVID-19 pandemic in late July 2020.

Previously, emergency operations staff met in a room that could barely contain all the work stations, phones, computers, binders, a printer, numerous display screens and boards, not to mention people.

With the importance of social distancing during COVID-19, moving the EOC to a new location was a priority.

Additionally, the building housing the old space is about to undergo a renovation.

Lt. Col. William Wilkinson, the EOC director, said these problems are solved by moving to the newly constructed firehouse.

“We have been looking for an opportunity to pull the trigger on the move over the past few months and the upcoming remodel was the perfect opportunity for us to execute this.”

The new room is more than twice the size of the old one, meaning all participants can social distance while responding to an emergency. Additionally, the new space supports a growing focus on emergency response.

“We have ramped up our preparation for such contingencies as aircraft accidents, force protection emergencies and natural disasters such as a Cascadia-type event,” said Wilkinson. “This new EOC significantly improves our ability to support short and long-term emergency type operations.”

Members of the EOC met in the room for the first time, July 28, to set up work stations, test network connectivity and to brainstorm how to effectively utilize the new space. The new room has back-up generator power, network connectivity, white boards and a projector and plans include adding several more display screens, said Master Sgt. Jonathon Anderson, the base emergency manager.

Wilkinson says the space is important but that it’s the people that reassure him they can handle whatever situation comes to pass.

“Regardless of our technologies, or where we will operate out of, it is our brave and amazingly talented first responders and Airmen that will always be the key to our success,” he said.  “Emergencies never remember to follow the checklist and our team is always finding ways to work together to overcome that!”