Design an Emergency Operation Center: What you need to know

How to build an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in a box.

Do you think building an effective EOC is out of your budget?

You’re not alone if you answered yes to that question.

What is an EOC? An Emergency Operation Center is a centralized location were people coordinate communications and information during, after, and before an emergency.

This can be a conference room used as a prime meeting location. This can be a rental site, a hotel room, or any pre-designated area everyone on the team will have access to. Your EOC plans should always include your IT team, your safety coordinators, and your HR team.

An EOC should be activated when a major disruption in business, causes significant property damage, or the incident has the potential to cause significant business disruption.

What are the top things you should have in your small business EOC BOX?

1. Communications
2. Power
3. Contact List


Communications can be in the form of burner phones, these can be purchased at your local Walmart and can be available at a moment’s notice. A secondary form of communications that can be used in an emergency is using Google Voice numbers to give out your emergency voice numbers because your main numbers may be unavailable or oversaturated during the emergency. During 911 I was unable to get through to any family members because my phone number was being oversubscribed and only provided limited use. Two-way radios are perfect for short distance communications and can be stored for a long time without issues. Google Docs is one of my favorite places to bring information in a centralized form that cannot be shut down by over saturation. The first things to go down are websites, they will not be stable platforms to communicate and provide direction to employees, customers or first responders. Google Docs is also a good tool to use for rumor control, and spelling out plans such as alternate routes, evacuation maps and road closure details. Google docs are inherently robust platforms are were designed to keep running even after many hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Social media can be used for rumor control as well if used early in the incident. Written communication for internal team members is also important at this stage. Get a dozen poster boards you can pin up to the drywall for your communication boards. Each team or topic should have its own color marker, buy packs of multi-colored markers and bundle them according to color. You should have someone you can call, such as an intern or a person that can easily access social media sites and transcribe information as it becomes available. Choose people who have a passion for helping and fill your contact list with smart people who want to be on site giving a hand. You will find out there is no shortage of people willing to help.


Power to use mobile devices will be at a premium, prepare for that now. Have on hand multiple portable power sources such as Anker Portable chargers mostly found for under 40 dollars. Another important part of your power plan is the charging hub. This hub can plug into a wall outlet and charge 6 or more USB charging devices. Amazon sells an 8-port charging hub for $27.00. Extension cords will be hard to find when you are in a hurry. Buy a dozen 12-foot power extension cords, these will come in handy in your EOC when you are relocating furniture to accommodate your team and or equipment. Are your critical systems tied into a battery backup or generator? In peacetime is the best time to find a battery backup and or generators. Do not forget the amount of trash your team will produce; trash control is very important in close quarters environments. Keep these things handy if you plan on having an EOC running for consecutive days.


Contact lists will be the most time-consuming part of your EOC box. It will be difficult to find the right mix of people willing to help in a time of crisis however you need to have the right skill sets for your EOC to succeed. These are not employees on your payroll these are people you have hand selected to be part of your team in the event you have to deploy your EOC. You will have to think out of the box on this one. Example: a student of the library sciences would be an excellent person to have on board an EOC, this person will be organized and have a wealth of experience using and deploying various methods of labeling and archiving needed to manage a large flow of information from multiple sources. Young people are great users of social media, have a few of these on your contact list, they will benefit your communications efforts greatly. You will have to keep your team fed and well hydrated, bottled water keeps for at least several years and is very economical to store. Keep a list of small restaurant owner on hand and ask them ahead of time if they would like to be part of your EOC team. People in sales positions are good communicators by nature and having a few transcribing and or relaying information can be helpful. You can also have some of these people remotely using Google Docs and a cell phone. Management type people are also great to have on your contact list especially if they specialize in particular subjects like technology, or programming. Do you know any school psychologists that are willing to counsel victims after an event? This can also be done remotely via Google Docs or email. These are great people to have on your contact list. Do you have a collection point for donations? Donations will be flowing in and may inhibit your normal flow if mail in the process. People from all over the country may send you things you do not need. Organize and plan for a flow of donations by pre-planning your donation staging areas. Reach out to Agape if you are in Ohio they have centers and logistic process in place to assist.