City’s Emergency Operations Centre – the nerve centre for response and recovery

The Emergency Operation Centre with representatives from each department coordinate the City-wide response around the table, with computers, charts, and televisions.

This feature story is part of the City of Ottawa Service Reviews: an initiative aimed at ensuring our services are meeting your needs. Visit ottawa.ca/YourIdeas today.

Feature story

With severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, floods, snow and ice storms, Ottawa residents have endured plenty of emergencies over the past few years, and these are on top of the global pandemic. These situations can result in anxious and stressful moments for you and your family. You need the latest information on what to do, who to contact, how to stay safe, and where to get any needed supports.

Emergency Operations Centre

The City’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), supported by the Office of Emergency Management and staff from across the City, serves as the nerve centre responsible for coordinating a multi-departmental response, aimed as ensuring a swift and effective response to any emergency, from natural disasters to public safety threats.

The EOC truly exemplifies the Team Ottawa spirit, as each department brings their individual expertise to the table to help with the response, to support residents, and to contribute to the recovery efforts. Some examples of those efforts include, but are not limited to:

  • Public Works manages such tasks as clearing debris, helping to secure roadways and intersections, managing sandbag operations during floods, and managing recovery cleanup efforts.
  • Ottawa Fire Services, Ottawa Police Service, and Ottawa Paramedic Service are often first on the scene to an emergency response.
  • Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services (RCFS) use City complexes for emergency reception centres where residents can acquire shelter, shower, power/charge devices, obtain water and food, and receive information and assistance.
  • Supply Services and Fleet Services help with the logistics – including purchasing or renting the necessary materials, supplies, and equipment.
  • RCFS and other City staff organize volunteer recruitment and efforts to help with the response and recovery.
  • Community and Social Services and Ottawa Public Health respond respectively to help our most vulnerable populations and monitor public health-related issues due to the emergency.
  • Public Information and Media Relations organizes and manages media conferences with key City officials and politicians, as well as issues media materials, and updates emergency web pages with the latest information and guidance.

The City’s Office of Emergency Management also works with partners and other agencies – such as the Canadian Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Hydro Ottawa and Hydro One (among others) – to further support any emergency response and recovery efforts.

Planning and preparing for emergencies – within the City and with the community

While effectively reacting to emergencies is what you see on the surface, the behind-the-scenes planning and preparing are integral to our community’s resilience to respond to and recover from a crisis. This includes:

  • Reviewing the City of Ottawa’s Municipal Emergency Plan annually to ensure that it is kept current.
  • Conducting training and exercises to prepare City staff, as well as test plans and procedures
  • Conducting Hazard Identification and Risk Assessments (HIRAs) to inform emergency planning and effectively allocate resources.
  • Debriefing after every emergency to measure what worked well and what can be improved. 
  • Raising awareness and educating residents about how to make an emergency plan and how to prepare to be self-sufficient for 72-hours.
  • Engaging with a broad range of community groups to work together to prepare for future emergencies, and to identify residents who may need additional supports.
  • Reviewing and updating current procedures and processes, and developing new ones, to constantly adapt to the evolving needs of Ottawa’s diverse communities.

Your city, your ideas!

This profile story is another example of how the City uses innovation and best practices to continuously evolve its planning, coordination and response to any natural or public safety emergency. It’s bringing all City services and community partners together to protect and support the wellbeing of all residents. Do you have more ideas for this or other City services?  Share your ideas at engage.ottawa.ca(link is external).

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