Columbia County Emergency Operation Center gets upgrades after audit

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga.(WJBF) - Columbia County's Emergency Operations Center is getting revamped after a recent audit.

The Emergency Operations Center in Columbia County has made some changes and they're gearing towards be more proactive instead of reactive.

The EOC looks a lot different than in years past.

There are walls filled with more technology and different divisions, making sure everyone is on the same page during an emergency.

"We have an area dedicated to a command staff administration. We needed a breakout room, we had a communications room that we weren't really utilizing because of the technology," said EMA Director Andy Leanza.

A recent audit of the EOC found that there was inventory stored that was unusable because it was expired or out of date and no longer used.

"So we were able to tidy up and make a break-out room for commissioners to sit," said Leanza.

The operations room is more high tech.

GIS or the Geographic Information System is an important new feature; tracking public works and having up to the minute accuracy during an emergency.

"These desks are tied in with power and internet, the command staff can move wherever they need to depending on the environment. We have a very flexible command room. That was key in moving forward and staying flexible," said Leanza.

Taxpayers aren't paying for the improvements at the center

"We were able to design our video wall and with IT, we selected our switching sources so we can stream data anywhere from FEMA to GEMA, from the National Weather Service to our traffic cameras," said Leanza.

"I found a lot of things being done on paper and a lot of things being done in spoken word and hand shakes. And it made me wonder how they could conduct business without the technology we have today," said Deputy EMA Director Shawn Granato.

The county says the Mobile Operations Center was also unsatisfactory.

"The technology in the command center was extraordinarily out of date. It's actually being used functionally now," said Granato.

Now, at the EOC, Leanza says it comes down to a new motto- preparing as partners, training as a team and responding as one.

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