4 Ways to Design an Emergency Operations Center Layout for Crisis

By March 19, 2021 Emergency Dispatch
Emergency Operations Center

When disaster strikes New York City, or any other municipality, agencies have to act fast to coordinate the response. Lives, property and safety all depend on the rapid response and efforts that the police, firefighters and other emergency medical service personnel put forth. To do these critical jobs, these agencies all depend on a central facility known as an Emergency Operations Center.

What is an Emergency Operations Center?

An Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is a secure facility where management decisions are made and coordinated responses are orchestrated in relation to emergency incidents. Responses include allocating resources, providing information management and giving advanced planning support. 

Designing an Emergency Operation Center for Crisis

An Emergency Operation Facility can vary in size from multi-use conference rooms to a large central room, to single spaces that function as standalone workplaces when an emergency situation arises. 

As part of its overarching mission to respond to crisis efficiently and without delays, it is critical that Emergency Operations Centers are designed and equipped optimally. This way they can provide staff support to responders and other Emergency Operation Centers in real-time. 

Efficient Emergency Operations Center Layout is Critical

The staff at an EOC must be equipped to do their job in a coordinated, streamlined manner when they answer the call for duty or communicate with one another; otherwise, it can delay critical response or leave a region uncovered. 

Therefore, an efficient emergency operations center layout is a critical component to consider when designing it. Moreover, the resulting design should help simplify and streamline an agencies’ critical response. Fortunately, a standard exists that gives you an excellent point of reference for creating an efficient EOC layout. 

Emergency Operations Center Design Standards

The United States Department of Defense (DOD) has published the guidance document UFC 4-141-04 for Military Emergency Operations Center Planning. The UFC represents a unified approach the military takes for the planning and design of Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) and the guidelines often serve as a standard for civilian Emergency Operations Center Design.
A business or agencies’ executive managers, designers, security personnel, architects, engineers or anyone else involved in the planning and creation of the floor layout can use the standard when planning or designing their Emergency Operations Center. 

The Heart of the EOC: The Operations Room

The operations room is centrally located in the EOC, and it serves as the heart of the entire operations. It is used for maintaining communication, extensive presentation and data processing aids for agency personnel 

The operations room is generally arranged with key decision-makers and coordinating staff located where there are no large video displays. In other words, at the rear where they face the screens, or at the head of teams of supporting staff that are spaced in different areas of the room. 

Emergency Operation Center Layouts

Emergency staff must be able to see the large video displays and speak to the people they need to work and interact with throughout the emergency incident. The UFC standards take this into consideration. 

For instance, in terms of visual displays, and the way console positions face them, the standard describes the four main ways they are used in the operations room of an emergency operations center floor plan.

#1: Consoles Clustered in Rows

Figure 1 shows console positions clustered in rows, and the configuration creates working group teams belonging to different specialties. The arrangement provides a rudimentary organization when there are members of different specialties clustered into related teams. 

Figure 1

Consoles Clustered in Rows

#2: Rows of Console Positions 

The second figure shows an array of rows facing forward toward a primary display screen and an EOC executive team. The arrangement allows team members to concentrate on a common issue, with each member providing their related feedback.

Figure 2

Rows of Console Positions

#3: V-Shaped Console Positions

Figure 3 shows a console arrangement that arrays team members into V-Shaped working groups. The arrangement allows EOC executives to address each group in front of them. In the configuration, this working group is also oriented toward a directory dais area and front display.  

Figure 3

V-Shaped Console Positions

#4: Conference Room Arrangement

Figure 4 is best described as your typical conference room arrangement – one in which all team members are seated around a conference room table. The conference room arrangement works best when it is used on small groups focusing on a common discussion. 

Figure 4

Conference Room Arrangement

Choose Saraval Industries for Your EOC Layout

As you can see, when it comes to designing emergency operations center layouts, custom dispatch furniture is an essential part of the equation and goes far beyond consoles and video displays on the wall. Meanwhile, the best configuration will depend on available space and concept of operations.

Saraval Industries proudly serves organizations that provide essential and lifesaving services. We can develop a floor plan layout and customized design concept for your EOC that meets your needs, including large-scale, single room layouts. 

Saraval Industries can also design floor plans that enable the dual use of EOC space during non-emergency situations, while still allowing its footprint to relate to emergency management and communications.

To find out more, you can contact us at (516)-768-9033 or fill out our online form

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