Naval Station (NAVSTA) Norfolk’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has and continues to serve as the hub of the installations response to the Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Beginning on March 14 when the state of Virginia implemented measures to slow the spread of the COVID virus, the EOC team has been manned 24-hour a day, seven days a week.
"We stood up the EOC because we needed one central location where we push out information, manage reports and answer questions from our tenant commands and installation residents. The EOC is critical to our success in NAVSTA Norfolk's response to the virus." said Capt. Vince Baker, NAVSTA Norfolk’s Commanding Officer. "Our EOC team has worked countless hours over the last several months and I cannot be more proud of how they have responded."
The initial responsibilities of the EOC began with the assigning rooms to Sailors placed in a Restriction of Movement (ROM) status and compiling reports, but quickly evolved into many other responsibilities to include planning for worst-case scenarios while answering calls from concerned commands and service members.
“During the peak part of this COVID-19 outbreak we were answering up to 30 calls a day,” said Gene Lambert, NAVSTA Norfolk Emergency Manager.
In addition to Lambert, the EOC team consists of Anthony Adkinson, Emergency Operations Center Manager and to assist during this busy time is supplemented with additional Sailors to serve as watch standers.
Emergency Management is a multi-faceted, sometimes tactical approach to everything that can wrong not only within the boundaries of NAVSTA Norfolk, but in response to world events as well. At any given time, the EOC can be called upon for the planning operations, dispatching forces and resources and even supporting civil authorities in response to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive threats. Of late, Lambert, Adkinson and their team of Sailors have been embroiled in a months-long game of “what if” with regards COVID-19.
“Working in three different shifts, with up to five personnel at any given time, the EOC continues its primary mission of emergency response while still maintaining coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lambert.
As the EOC teams has gotten into a steady flow in their COVID-19 response, they do want to remind everyone that hurricane season is in full swing and encourages everyone to be prepared.
“While COVID-19 is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it is important we are all making the proper preparations for hurricane season. NOAA has predicted a 60% chance that we will see an above average number of storms this hurricane season. We are only a few days into the season and have already seen our third named storm,” said Lambert. “Be informed on what hazards affect your area, prepare a good hurricane kit, and develop a plan on what you and your family will do when a hurricane strikes. Regardless of how many storms they forecast, it only takes one storm in our area to make it a bad year.”