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What distinguishes emergency coordination communications from the business world is quick reaction time.
In the business world, people have longer communications cycles; more time to complete transactions, etc. Daft in his book, Organization Theory and Design (2), distinguishes the following communication channels into the following hierarchy:2. The telephone and related personal electronic media such as voice mail are next in richness.
Now, let’s look at the second purpose of the EOC: To coordinate support for emergency responders.
It is second behind situation awareness because, if you are unaware of the emergency situation, it follows that you cannot effectively and responsibly coordinate support.
The Incident Command System recommends that the Operations Chief periodically conduct a face-to-face meeting of all EOC coordinating staff members because it is the fastest way to update everyone on the emergency situation and to communicate, simultaneously, in both directions.
This is one reason for having everyone in the same room.
Making critical decisions without situation awareness borders on irresponsible; it can be dangerous and may become a potential legal liability.
Decision makers: We are not talking about the expertise in the EOC.
An EOC that can develop situation awareness has the capability of effectively coordinating support for responders in the field.
The process involves answering a call from a responder, finding and calling resources, arranging deliveries, following up on promises, and monitoring results on behalf of the requester. By whatever means, coordination for a request should be the responsibility of one EOC staff member who reports a result to the requester. Practically speaking, the EOC does not manage responders or their resources.