Health Department Operations Center MN

Per the National Incident Management System (NIMS), Department Operations Centers (DOC) are established and activated by individual departments to coordinate and control actions specific to that department during an emergency event. A DOC is a physical facility or location similar to the campus Emergency Operations Center (EOC). However, the purpose of a DOC is to manage and coordinate events specific to that department.

Although the creation of a Health DOC had been in the planning stages for years at the University of Minnesota, the need to quickly utilize a Health DOC for H1N1 response became apparent during the first week of May 2009 when the initial information and communication needs required a centralized, coordinated approach.

A newly renovated conference room in the School of Public Health was chosen as the best space due to its central location and available technology. The DOC was open from 8 am-4:30 pm. from May 4-8 with three to five staff or Medical Reserve Corps members working at the site at any time. All H1N1-related questions and concerns were handled from this central location. Daily CDC and state health department briefings were monitored from this site. Each day the following information was posted: daily schedule, daily objectives and tasks, staff assignments.

Use of the DOC was invaluable and consensus from staff was that the site should have been activated sooner. Standardized set-up and activation documentation has been completed. Additional equipment has been purchased and stored for future use.