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Community stakeholders come together to keep essential services operating

By Stephen Rinaldi

EOC manager

While it can be hard to stay on top of a pandemic, that is just what we are trying to do at the newly formed Omicron Emergency Operations Center.

An Emergency Operations Center, or EOC, is a term used in emergency management operations for a physical location where emergency response and recovery support operations are coordinated and planned.

An EOC is different from an Incident Command Center, or ICC. The Chelan-Douglas Health District established an ICC nearly two years in response to COVID. It operates out of the health district and is led by Incident Commander Kent Sisson, formerly the Emergency Management director for Chelan County.

The EOC was recently established on Jan. 18 in response to the Omicron variant and its anticipated far-reaching impacts on our community. The EOC supports the ICC.

The Chelan County EOC is located in a tech-savvy room at Wenatchee Valley College. When the college was building its new Wells Hall replacement building, Chelan County commissioners contributed $1.2 million to the construction to include the operations center, which is overseen by the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management. This is our first opportunity to use the EOC.

We expect the EOC to be operating for about four weeks. By communicating with our community partners – health care agencies, long-term care facilities, schools, utility providers, municipalities and key businesses – we aim to serve as a clearing house, gathering and monitoring the effects of the Omicron variant on our community and our critical infrastructure and delivery operations within both Chelan and Douglas counties.

Using this information, we then hope to launch any necessary and coordinated efforts if Omicron’s impacts hit any of our community stakeholders hard. Also, among our Omicron-specific objectives:

Support healthcare facilities with surge planning.

Support long-term care facilities with surge planning and the identification of potential housing alternatives.

Plan for, organize and deploy resources and staffing to ensure continuation of essential services, or alternative operations as needed, to protect the public health.

Prioritize safety for all cooperating agencies and the public.

Create and output single-source and clear messaging to all stakeholders and, in some cases, the public, regarding the status of infection and exposure rates, operations and measures taken to protect and provide for continued critical infrastructure operations.

Maintain communication with regional and state partners and stakeholders to identify trends and resource availability.

I’m excited to be managing such an important operation for the community. I urge the public to do its part by masking up when outside your homes. If you are experiencing COVID symptoms, visit www.cdhd.wa.gov to learn about proper quarantine protocols. Here at the EOC, we hope we can provide a little assurance that emergency responders and community stakeholders are working to do their part in keeping our community running as close to normal as possible during this Omicron wave.

Stephen Rinaldi is the Chelan County Fire Marshal and currently serving as the manager of the Omicron Emergency Operating Center. Rinaldi has a Master’s in Organizational Leadership – Fire Rescue Executive Leadership and has completed the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy. His experience spans over 25 years of service in public safety and related fields to include many years of emergency management activities involving major disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and floods. He is a director on the Board of the International Association of Arson Investigators and serves on technical committees for six National Fire Protection Association Standards and Guides.

 

Last Updated: 02/14/2022 08:42 AM

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