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Ina Maye Toland “EOC”

September 12, 2011

It was a sparse crowd that showed up for the Emergency Operation Center “Open House” yesterday. That was somewhat expected.

First of all, emergency responders usually focus in on what they see that directly impacts them. Items such as trucks and equipment are visible, easy to identify resources. You can’t extinguish a fire without a fire truck and fire hose. And, you can’t take care of a sick person without a cot and an ambulance.

Next is the public. The public probably scratch their heads and wonder, “What the heck is an Emergency Operation Center.” And, honestly a room with radios and multi-media equipment doesn’t excite one’s curiosity.

This apparent lack of interest might explain why Stafford County has never had an Emergency Operation Center. It also might explain why our dispatchers have such meager quarters. But, it’s a mistaken lack of focus.

If you watched the television documentary on the World Trade Center terrorist attacks last night you saw that one of the problems – which seems to be a problem with any large scale incident – is communications. The deficiency resulted in the loss of life – many.

The EOC will provide Stafford County with a key improvement with communications. I pointed out (to the group that attended the open house) that Stafford County is fortunate to have some very thoughtful residents.

Long time Stafford County resident Ina Maye Toland left the fire department monies (in her will) that paid for the entire EOC. Just recently there was another Stafford County resident who paid for a complete complement of rescue tools. Things like this rarely happen in larger communities.

If you couldn’t make it to the Open House, it’s not too late. It’s located at 636 E. 4th St. in St. John. We won’t have any cake left, but we’ll brew you a cup of coffee.

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