Training EOC First-Timers

If you’ve worked in an EOC, you’ve certainly seen it.  The deer-in-the-headlights stare of an EOC first-timer.  There is so much to take in and a lot going on.  A room full of work stations with people typing, people on the phone, and others talking to each other.  While all these people might be wearing vests or name badges, some are in a shirt and tie, some lost the tie hours ago, some in a polo shirt, and others are in uniforms.  Walls are covered in screens, some showing the news, some weather, and some with a list of information on shelters or road closures.  Where do I sit?  What do I do?  How do I dial an outside line???

Remember, though, we were all once that first-timer, too.

Lucien Canton, one of the most prolific consultants and bloggers in the field of emergency management, just posted a great article in his regular newsletter titled ‘Just in Time Training: Tips for Orienting EOC Newcomers.’.  In it, he lists some great ideas on how we can better prepare for these inevitable first-timers and help ensure they become productive members of the EOC team quickly.  Check it out.  Oh, and if you aren’t subscribed to his newsletter (you should be!), info can be found here.

– TR

2 thoughts on “Training EOC First-Timers

  1. Tim:
    A paraphrased part of EM cannon is that disasters are no time to be sharing business cards. The same applies for EOC operations. IMHO there should be no such thing as a “first timer” in an EOC during live ops. There needs to be a robust, consistent, and integrated program of training and exercises to make sure that people can feel their way through their roles and responsibilities in a ‘safe and controlled’ environment – where a missed fact or questionable decision is not going to have the potential to negatively impact life, property, or environment.

    If you’re having to depend on Just in Time training for EOC staff then I think that is indicative of a larger issue.


    1. Hi Aaron,
      I fully agree with you! We need to really strengthen our preparedness to ensure that we train and exercise as many people as we possibly can so that they are ready for an EOC or other assignment. That said, Lu’s article and my support of it are in the recognition of the inevitable – there will always be a situation where someone shows up who hasn’t been trained before hand. It’s something we can’t control since it usually occurs with the staff of other agencies or organizations, so we need to be ready for it.

      Just in time training isn’t something to solely depend on, but it’s a necessary and realistic safety net, I think.

      Thanks for the feedback and stressing the importance of preparedness to reduce as many of these situations as possible!


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