Steel Airman enhances communication capabilities for Emergency Operations Center

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jefferson James-Dorsey
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

When disaster strikes, the 911th Airlift Wing Emergency Operations Center is ready to jump into action, now more than ever with the newly launched Virtual Operations Center, developed by a Steel Airman.

Senior Master Sgt. Jessica E. Davis and Master Sgt. Thomas E. Mimidis, who split the role of EOC Manager, recruited Tech Sgt. Richard Callis, 911th Logistics Readiness Squadron Unit Training Manager, after working alongside him in the Unit Control Center.

The EOC is the command and control support element responsible for coordinating the flow of information and resources before, during and after an incident. This includes natural disasters, aircraft incidents, terrorist threats and any other contingency involving base-wide resources.

Timely and accurate communication between the UCC, comprised of pre-designated points-of-contact, and Crisis Action Team, comprised of commanders and their support staff, is vital to implement measured response and recovery plans. 

Air Force Regulation requires the EOC to use a common operating picture, which can be costly, said Mimidis. In the past, whiteboards, paper, telephones and radios were used to record and transmit information. 

The VOC, developed in SharePoint, streamlines communication, accountability tracking, resource management and more in web-based tool. The chaos of personnel making phone calls, going back and forth to the CAT, while possibly misunderstanding information could take up to 20 minutes. In contrast, the VOC provides a platform with increased visibility and information sharing as quickly as every 15 seconds.

Another advantage of the VOC is the historical record created with each entry. A real time account is maintained for archival purposes, which can be helpful in developing lessons learned.

“Sgt. Callis was instrumental in launching the VOC,” said Mimidis. “He is very intelligent and extremely knowledgeable in SharePoint.”

After months of development, the VOC came to fruition. The VOC was used for the first time during a Force Protection exercise in August.

“The communication flow has definitely been improved, and it has been very, very well received by leadership,” said Mimidis. 

Callis shares the credit with those behind the idea.

“The VOC was inspired by Sgt. Davis and Sgt. Mimidis,” said Callis, “they had the vision. They were the driving force and saw that I had the SharePoint skills, so we came together.”

“It’s a great tool,” said Callis. “We’re in the 21st century. We had these applications that were not being used to the fullest potential. I code a lot on SharePoint across the entire base, trying to get people more familiar with what SharePoint is and how we can best leverage its abilities to make all of our jobs easier, not just the EOC. The EOC is just one prime example of how we’ve streamlined communication between the UCC and CAT.”

Looking ahead, the VOC will be a continuous improvement project with ongoing efforts to develop new features.