When Hurricane Sandy floodwaters came within a quarter of a mile of the Town of Fairfield’s police headquarters, officials realized that they’d better find a back-up location for their Emergency Operations Center (EOC ) if it ever became inaccessible.
Enter a group of Fairfield University School of Engineering graduate students and their plan to make the Barone Campus Center (BCC ) an alternative EOC site — command central for coordinating emergency services during a crisis.
The plan was put to the test in March during a mock drill involving emergency personnel from the Town of Fairfield, the Fairfield University Department of Public Safety, students, and staff.
Months of preparation involved students contacting other EOC sites in the state, and taking part in talks between town and University officials. During the drill, stations were set up for “Command,” “Logistics,” “Operations,” “Intel,” “Health Department,” and other areas. Officials checked wireless connectivity, phone, computer, and television news access.
Deputy Fire Chief Arthur J. Reid, who is the town’s assistant emergency manager, said the drill went smoothly. “This is a great boost to us to have this plan,” Reid noted. “Fairfield University can meet our significant technology and communication needs, and there is also a campus [CO-GEN plant that produces its own power] if the electricity goes out.”
University Public Safety Director Todd Pelazza said the EOC drill was the latest endeavor in a longtime collaboration. “This just seemed like a natural fit,” said Pelazza.