- Written by Mark Baumgardner
On Thursday, October 16, 2014, NEOCHMM had a very interesting tour of the Lake County Emergency Operations Center.
The center is located at 8505 Garfield Road, just east of Lakeland Community College, on the east side of Lake County. The Center is situated in an earthen and concrete bunker just outside the 10-mile exclusion zone from the Perry Nuclear Power Plant.
The Center was constructed in 1985 and was renovated with updated technology in 2010. It has food service and sleeping quarters to support personnel in an extended emergency situation. The center has its own standby power and has positive pressure filtered ventilation.
The Center services as an active Lake County Sheriff’s Communication Center and the Emergency Operations Center for Lake County.
The Communications Center receives 911 calls and dispatches help or transfers the calls to local jurisdictions as necessary. The system has conductivity with the 800Mz radio system in Lake County; landline, VoIP and wireless telephones and the internet.
Direct Communications can be established with Federal, State, adjoining County and local authorities. Additional features include a reverse-911 call system, countywide emergency sirens and the Emergency Alert System (“EAS”).
The Emergency Operations Center or “EOC” serves as the nerve center for responses by coordinating and integrating all activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve the capability to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from threatened or actual natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or other man-made disasters. In the past few years, the EOC was activated to respond to a derailment and release of hazardous materials and to extensive flooding along the Chagrin River. Every two years, FEMA conducts a drill to respond to a potential radiological release form the Perry Nuclear Power Plant.
The center consists of a central operations room with desks for each responding agency. The desks have telephones and radio communications with outlying resources. There is also a command center for the County Commissioner’s and a Hazard Assessment Center to receive and evaluate field data, then model exposures to first responders and the general public.
Ed Filppi, with the Ohio Department of Public Safety, is assigned full time to the EOC, to coordinate the State Of Ohio’s response to a radiological release from the Perry Nuclear Power Plant. Ed has an educational and hands-on career background with Health Physics. Ed reviewed the basic operations of a nuclear power plant, emergency classifications levels and potential responses to various levels of an emergency. Bert Mechenbier, with the Lake County Department of Health, discussed the Field Monitoring Teams (FMT’s) and demonstrated the FMT Vans. Lake County is the only county in Ohio and one of a very few across the nation that has field monitoring teams (FMTs) that would search for a radioactive plume, traverse the plume, take air samples, and perform analyses. The Vans have the capability of monitoring for gross gamma radiation and field screening for radioactive iodine. Such data can then be transferred to the EOC. The vans can also be used to collect samples of air, water, soil and plant materials for subsequent analysis in a laboratory.
Our thanks to Ed, Burt, the County EOC and Sheriff’s Department for a very interesting tour and for answering our numerous questions.