Emergency Operation Center (E.O.C.)

There are many Emergency Operations Centers in the USA for each of the 50-states, hundreds of counties, plus the federal government level. In addition, a number of foreign nations also run their own Emergency Operations Center ready to help with the next Emergency or Disaster. 

Richland’s Emergency Operations Center, also known as the EOC is a support center. Sergeant Sean Goforth, who has been in Law Enforcement for 14 years, and has been at Richland Police Department for 9 years along with Assistant Fire Chief Scotty Gainey who has been in the Fire Service for 18 years and been at Richland Fire Department for 18 years, both have been over the Richland E.O.C. since 2006. In the event of a hurricane, emergency or other disasters in the City of Richland, the Emergency Operations Center’s primary purpose is to support the incident commander at the incident location. At the Emergency Operations Center, various divisions plan for future activities related to the emergency and develop strategies to recover from the emergency.

Richland’s Emergency Operations Center is organized with the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as outlined in the National Incident Management System. This ensures maximum operational effectiveness between all levels of government.

Under the Homeland Security guidelines, four sections – Operations, Logistics, Planning, and Finance – have a chief and several divisions.

So, if the type and severity of the incident calls for it, Operations will include Police and other Law Enforcement, Fire, Rescue, Hazardous Materials, Public Health, Energy, and Communications. Other divisions may be involved as well. If a disaster occurs, the Emergency Operations Center Situation Analysis Team will evaluate and decide which divisions need to be activated to best support the Emergency.

Every family is responsible to protect yourself and your family and should establish a disaster plan. Below are important steps that you and your family should take right now to prepare for an emergency or disaster in your region:

  1. Decide where your family will regroup and how your family will make contact after a disaster. You must consider that cell phones will not work.
  2. Make sure you know how to turn off the water and other utilities at your home.
  3. Have a supply of at least 5-gallons of water, at least a 5-day’s supply of non-perishable food, and a manual can opener, food and drink for each person in your home. More is always better.
  4. Have on a flashlight, portable radio, extra batteries, and first aid kit.
  5. Keep your car gas tank as full as possible at all times.
  6. Read and take action on Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) online publication "Are You Ready?"


Hurricanes and other Disasters in Mississippi and around the world provide all the proof we need; it is prudent for you and your family to make provisions beyond FEMA’s recommended Basic Disaster Supply Kit. 

What You Should Do in an Emergency 

  • Act on your personal and family disaster plan.
  • Listen for and act on all instructions from your elected City officials and other local authorities.
  • Access information via all functioning media, which includes radio and TV-station news and your City’s website
  • If so instructed, go to the shelter nearest you.
  • If so instructed, evacuate.
  • If you are instructed to evacuate and do not have transportation, call 911.

Specific Emergencies

  • After a Bomb or Other Explosion: Exit the building and the area quickly. Do not use elevators. Cover your nose and mouth and do not inhale dust and particles. If you are trapped in debris, do not move except to tap on the wall or nearby surface so rescuers can hear where you are.
  • In a Biological Emergency: Follow the instructions of doctors and public health officials. Practice good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading germs. If needed, seek medical advice or attention.
  • In a Chemical Emergency: Get out of the building and get away from the area. If needed, seek medical advice or attention.
  • In a Radiological Emergency: Contaminated radioactive material can injure your body both externally and internally. Move as far as possible away from the suspected area. Cover your nose and mouth. Stay indoors, close all windows and doors, and turn off your air conditioner. Bring your pets inside. Notify your neighbors of the alert via phone. Listen and watch local news.

First, the City is working to identify and reduce risks:
The City’s Fire Wise program reduces fuel sources close to homes and buildings – and works to reduce fuel loads. 

Where possible, the City and County advance lower-population routes for dangerous chemicals, and otherwise work to reduce local storage and transit of hazardous materials. 

Second, the City is preparing to respond to and recover from all hazards:
The Mayor and the Office of Emergency Management coordinate planning by Police, Fire, Rescue, Haz-Mat, 311, Environmental Health, and other City agencies. 

The City integrates its planning with local businesses, the federal government, state government, the State National Guard, the American Red Cross, City Public Schools, United States Postal Service, Sandia National Labs, and the Kirtland Air Force Base, to name just a few. 

The City conducts mock-disaster exercises to test the City’s integrated response to an emergency. 

The City plans for continuity of government. 

The city's revised and upgraded All-Hazard Emergency Operations Plan is in effect. 
To prepare for an act of terrorism, the City engages in tactical planning. Most of this work is coordinated through the Police, Fire, Rescue, and other federal agencies. 

What the City Will Do in an Emergency
In a nutshell: The Mayor, the Office of Emergency Management including the Emergency Operations Center, and the incident commander will lead and manage the crisis. The City’s 911 call center will answer questions. As needed, the Bomb Squad, Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), and other Police Department teams will respond to the crisis, direct traffic, block streets, and go door-to-door. As needed, Emergency Management Technician (EMT) -trained fire officers and rescue officers will combat fire, rescue people, and control hazardous materials. As needed, shelters will be established and evacuation routes announced. 

Specifically, the following steps will be taken, as needed, under the leadership of the Mayor, the City Emergency Manager and the Office of Emergency Management: 

Activate the Emergency Operations Center. 
Assess the situation and involve all appropriate agencies: law enforcement, fire, rescue, hazardous materials, public health, communications, energy, etc. 

Support the incident commander. 

Provide information via the City’s website, 911 call center, and news media (newswires, radio, TV, Internet). 

If needed, establish shelters and evacuation routes (and what routes not to use) and transportation for every citizen possible. 
If needed, inform public school officials and provide specific instructions regarding school children. 

Ensure continuity of government. 

Ensure that all levels of government – federal, state, county, and municipal – work together in a coordinated manner on operations, logistics, planning, and finance. 

Launch strategic disaster recovery efforts. 

Emergency Training Exercises
Through the City’s Emergency Operations Center (Emergency Operations Center), the Office of Emergency Management is preparing for a disaster in your City by conducting a range of training exercises. 

Evacuations are used to move people out of the way of a threatening situation such as a flood or fire. The scale of an evacuation can vary from a single building to an entire city.

Your safety is our priority and we hope that this Evacuation Plan overview will enhance your preparedness and contribution to a safe evacuation process should your City face such an emergency. 

Citizens and Visitors to the City 
Richland’s  Office of Emergency Management works in conjunction with emergency responders to maintain a flexible evacuation plan based on the situations that may impact us. There are no specific evacuations routes for each type of hazard due to the extreme variability of Richland’s hazards. There are many factors that influence how each storm develops, floods flow, fires move, and chemical plumes expand. 

Things you need to know in an emergency or disaster in your state

  • How can I be prepared in an emergency or disaster?
  • Preparing for an Evacuation
  • What do I do at the time of an emergency evacuation?


These variable factors are considered before an evacuation is ordered. If it is too dangerous to evacuate, officials may decide it is safer to take protective actions, such as shelter in place, until it is safe to evacuate or the emergency is over. Once the decision is made to evacuate, the route and type of evacuation will vary depending on the scene. Key elements in these important decisions include:

  • What are the wind and weather conditions?
  • What time of day or night is it?
  • Are conditions deteriorating or improving?
  • Are people safer indoors or outdoors?
  • Will the rapid movement of hundreds or thousands of people injure as many or more than the threat?
  • Will the out flow of people obstruct the movement of emergency vehicles and responders?
  • Will backed-up traffic block vital roadways?
  • Is there a safe mode of transportation and route for evacuees?
  • Is there sufficient notification time before the need to evacuate?
  • Are there Safe locations for staging areas, pickup points, shelter, supplies and medical assistance, if needed?
  • Does the impacted group have special needs?

Rest assured that when an evacuation is recommended by local officials it is a serious situation! Officials try to give as much advanced warning as possible, so the problem may not look serious at the time you are notified. Please evacuate immediately when asked to because you could lose your life if you stay. If you wait, rescuers may not be able to reach you in time when the dangerous situation is worse. 

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

What's best about taking CERT Classes is that it doesn't cost citizens to participate ...except your time to attend all the classes.

How much food and water should my family have on hand?
At a minimum: 5-gallons of water per person and a 5-day supply of non-perishable food per person. Exceeding these minimal recommendations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is wise and prudent. Remember your manual (non-electric) can opener, as well. See FEMA’s valuable online resource tool, Are You Ready? 

What else should my family do to prepare? 
Each citizen should have a personal disaster plan, realizing you may have only a few minutes to evacuate. Question that families must ask of themselves: How will each individual member of your family react when you are not together? Where will you regroup? How will you make contact if cell phones are down? Do you know how to turn off the water and other utilities that go into your home and business? Does your car have gas? If you won’t have transportation out of the city, how will you contact officials to communicate your needs? 

Also, specifically, besides food and water, you should have on hand a flashlight, a portable radio, extra batteries, and a first aid kit. 

To receive your copy and develop a detailed plan, see FEMA’s valuable online resource tool, Are You Ready? 

What are the first things I should do during a disaster?
Follow instructions from your elected City officials and other local authorities. In addition to acting on instructions you hear from the City via the media, you can check the City website or call 601-420-1551 to ask questions. If the need arises for shelters, evacuations or both, activate your personal (and family) disaster plan. See our more details on What You Can Do to Be Prepared. 

How is my City preparing for a disaster?
The Office of Emergency Management examines risks to the local area and needs for training, equipment, and other resources. We train and prepare those members who will serve in key positions in the Emergency Operations Center. We plan and conduct emergency training exercises. We oversee all planning, and have submitted to the Board of Alderman an All-Hazard Emergency Operations Plan based on federal standards and best practices around the country. We participate in joint planning and training with federal, state, Rankin County Schools , United States Postal Service, and other government entities.

What is your City doing to prevent a disaster?
We identify risks and hazards in the Metro area and work to mitigate or reduce their potential disastrous effects. Your city will work with the County to reduce dangerous chemicals, where possible, and promote alternate routes to reduce hazardous material transit in populated areas. We ensure the Fire Wise programs are reducing fuel sources close to your home. We look at private and public HazMat generators and work with and participate in many programs with the city's or country's Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). We enhance tactical planning for terrorism events by improving information sharing between tri-county agencies and higher levels of government. We do all this and more by implementing the City’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan, which is currently pending state and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approval.

What will the City do in an emergency?
The Mayor, the Office of Emergency Management including the Emergency Operations Center, and the Incident Commander will lead and manage the crisis. The City’s 911 call center will be notified. As needed, Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), and other Police Department teams will direct traffic, block streets, and go door-to-door. Emergency Medical Technician-trained Fire Officers and Rescue Officers will combat fire, rescue people, and control hazardous materials. As needed, shelters will be established and evacuation routes announced. 

What is the role of the Mayor in Emergency Management?
As the chief elected official of the City, the Mayor has the authority to declare a local disaster and request State assistance. The Mayor is also the key policy maker. The Mayor ensures that all City departments are available to deploy during a disaster, based on their capabilities or to assist the police department in preserving life and protecting property.

What is the role of the Police Department in Emergency Management?
Primarily, the Police Department's role is to deal with criminal events. The Police Department’s highly trained Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), or they may engage in traffic control. Police may also assist in coordinating support of fire and rescue efforts as requested by the Fire Department to include; securing a safe area for firefighters to operate, blocking streets, or going door-to-door to notify citizens to move to shelter or to evacuate. Also, the police aviation unit provides visual observation platforms to evaluate disasters in progress.

What is the role of the Fire Department?
Richland’s Fire Department officers are prepared to respond to any emergency with Emergency Medical Technician training. Primarily, the Fire Department will respond to rescues, structural failures, and land wildfires. All fire officers and rescue officers are Emergency Medical Technician-trained.