Keeping Lubbock Powered: The People Who Manage the City’s Emergency Operations Center
During major storms, you may not realize all that occurs behind the scenes. When a major December storm brought hazardous conditions to Lubbock, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) went to work.
The EOC is an emergency management facility where centralized emergency management can be performed during a major emergency or disaster. Jay Parchman has been a first responder and public safety administrator for over 40 years. Since 2011, he’s served as the director of the Office of Emergency Management. Part of Parchman’s duty is to oversee the EOC and help efficiently facilitate and plan with all who are assigned emergency management responsibilities.
“On Friday, Dec. 7, at 6 a.m., the forecast predicted sub- and near-freezing temperatures with freezing rain, sleet, ice and snow,” said Parchman. “Due to the increased demand, extremely hazardous and difficult road conditions and utility infrastructure issues, the emergency response and rescue times were extended.”
When conditions had finally normalized, it was 10:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10. The EOC managed to stay open for over 73 hours, continuously communicating with Lubbock residents, neighbors and partners and providing real-time updates and safety messages to the community through social media, LBKAlerts and the media.
When the EOC is activated, representatives from all 16 City departments and members from the EOC team gather together to provide communication, response and recovery coordination, resource allocation, information collection, analysis and dissemination. Depending on the severity of the incident, the EOC is tasked with coordinating efforts with neighboring emergency operations centers.
The process of training staff and forming a plan for emergencies and disasters dates back to 2004.
“In 2004, the City of Lubbock adopted the National Incident Management System which serves as the standard command and control system during emergency operations,” said Parchman. “We’ve implemented training standards for all responders. Back in January 2017, we also updated our existing plans and developed multiple exercises to test and make additional adjustments as necessary.”
Planning and training for severe events proved effective during the recent December storm.
Throughout the storm, the EOC staff focused on safety and worked over 1,500 hours without a single accident. The overall public response was favorable, praising the EOC team for their dedication to keeping Lubbock informed, powered and safe.
Even after the storm has passed, the work doesn’t stop for the EOC team.
“After each incident or event, we conduct an after-action review to determine what went well and what we need to do better,” says Parchman. “At the EOC, we’re always looking for ways to improve to better prepare for the next event and keep our community safe.”