The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is where the activities of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) are coordinated to support the countries of the Region of the Americas in times of disaster.
The way the EOC operates has changed since its creation in 1998, to better respond to the growing impact of disasters and to improve effectiveness. In 2004, the Member States requested the strengthening of the Organization’s response capacity (Resolution CD45/R8), and the EOC became a permanent office. In 2012, after a process where several areas of the Organization participated, the new model for organizational response to emergencies and disasters, based on the Incident Command System, was approved. The equipping of the new EOC facilities at PAHO Headquarters in an area, shared with the library, was also completed.
The EOC facilitates collaboration and communication among various technical areas. Staff from Alert and Response Operations (ARO) and the Disaster Program regularly work in these facilities. During emergencies, staff deployed from other areas also use the space. Videoconference and teleconference services are used to connect the different areas working in the response with the ministries of health in the affected countries. The Disaster Task Force, which provides technical assistance, also meets there.
EOC activation is based on the level of the emergency, determined by criteria such as impact and the affected countries’ response capacity. The incident manager directs all PAHO operations related to a specific event and coordinates the response between the PAHO Representative Office in the affected country and the technical areas of the Organization. He or she also helps identify and contact experts who can be mobilized in the field or provide technical advisory services.
The EOC receives, analyzes and shares information on damage, actions taken, and health needs in response to emergencies. Maps, figures, and useful reports are issued and disseminated for decision-making purposes. Guides are identified and specific recommendations drafted, in collaboration with the technical areas. In addition, the mobilization of experts and resources is monitored.
On a daily basis the EOC staff monitor and receive information on emergencies and work to ensure that the Organization is prepared. They do so by conducting exercises and training sessions with the Representative Offices and technical areas to adapt and test contingency plans. They also identify and update the roster of candidates who can assume critical functions in emergencies.
For more information on this topic visit: www.paho.org/disasters.