TAVARES — In the midst of a dangerous El Niño season, The Lake County Emergency Communications and Operations Center (ECOC) recently installed 98 new workstation consoles with integrated power, data and telecom. The stations, which were paid for through a $116,000 federal Urban Areas Security Initiative Grant, are a major upgrade from the previous folding desks used during activations and training.
“The new consoles increase the amount of work space for each emergency support liaison and aid in creating a more efficient workflow,” said Tommy Carpenter, manager of Lake County’s Emergency Management Division.
The consoles come just in time, as Carpenter, his staff and local partners prepare for the chance that El Niño could produce hazardous weather in Lake County. The National Weather Service (NWS) has forecasted the strong El Niño weather could increase the likelihood of severe weather, tornado outbreaks, heavy rain and flooding through April. Similar past weather patterns led to the two deadliest tornado outbreaks in Florida history, with more than 60 lives lost.
The ECOC, located on Alfred Street in Tavares, is a fortified facility completed in 2013 and was paid for with federal and state grants, as well as local funding. The 28,495-square-foot building includes the Emergency Operations Center, Lake County Emergency Management Division offices and a Communications Center, which includes a 911 call center for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Lake Emergency Medical Services.
“As predicted when it opened, the ECOC is one of the most heavily utilized county facilities, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Lake County Public Safety Director Chief John Jolliff. “The greatest success is that the entire project was value engineered and paid for over time through grants. Today, it is one of the best emergency centers in the state of Florida.”
To learn more, contact Lake County Emergency Management, call 352-343-9420 or visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/emergency, www.facebook.com/LakeCountyFLEmergencyManagement and www.twitter.com/lakeemergency. For help in creating an emergency preparedness plan, visit www.ready.gov.