The new St. Charles County Emergency Operations Center [(EOC] is move-in ready.
The center, located at 1400 T.R. Hughes Boulevard in O’Fallon, will be the home to the county’s emergency functions that previously were located in different areas of the county. It is expected to be fully occupied by the end of the year.
“We will begin moving equipment and staff in soon,” said County Executive Steve Ehlmann, in a news release. “More than 40 employees will operate out of this facility daily, with the capacity to hold many more in the event of an emergency or disaster. This is a much-needed facility that will bring all of the county’s emergency services together for a more coordinated and efficient response.”
The public is invited to tour the EOC during an open house from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22. Along with behind-the-scenes department tours, guests are invited to participate in technology demonstrations and safety presentations, as well as see police K9 units, a SCCPD vehicle and equipment gallery, and mascot special guests.
The open house also will feature giveaways, a St. Charles City-County Pop-Up Library, and a Kona Ice benefit for The BackStoppers, Inc. For updates, visit the department’s Facebook and Twitter pages at facebook.com/StCharlesCountyPD or twitter.com/sccmopd.
The new, 30,000-square-foot facility will house the day-to-day operations of the Department of Emergency Communications. The emergency communications department maintains and supports the county’s Next Generation 911 phone system and the digital P25 radio system.
This department also provides dispatching services from an office in Wentzville for 12 fire and EMS agencies in the county and for county police, sheriff, corrections and park rangers.
Also moving to the new EOC is the county police Division of Emergency Management, currently located in a cramped space in the basement of the St. Charles County Jail in St. Charles. Emergency management staff work on unified planning and coordination of disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
The space will accommodate 17 emergency task groups from municipalities, neighboring jurisdictions and state and federal agencies for major activations. County Police Chief David Todd said in a memorandum to councilmembers that cities will assign staff to the division.
County officials also are moving toward creating a regional emergency management agency as part of the division. The County Council unanimously approved an ordinance at its Aug. 27 meeting authorizing Ehlmann to enter agreements with the cities of O’Fallon and Wentzville to join the agency. The ordinance states that other municipalities may wish to join later.
The center lends itself to being an emergency center because the building is designed to withstand an EF-4 tornado, which will help to ensure that the facility continues to be operational during severe weather. During emergencies and disasters, staff will be able to monitor live events and data in real time through a variety of systems, enabling a faster response.
Also in the new EOC is the county’s Information Systems Data Center, the “nerve center” for all PCs, telephones, security and video in the building. Dual power, dual UPS, dual generators and dual network links to the entire county IT network ensure security and resiliency. In the future, the EOC data center will support the county’s overall technology infrastructure needs. Currently, the county’s data center is in the county’s administration building in St. Charles.
The EOC is adjacent to the St. Charles County Police Department, located at 101 Sheriff Dierker Court in O’Fallon.
Landmark Contract Management was hired as the owner’s representative for the county; Brinkmann Constructors, in partnership with Architects Design Group, was the design-builder. The center cost $24 million – more than $500,000 under budget. The building can remain fully operational without electricity, water or sewer for three days. There also are 33 cameras monitoring the building and site.
County emergency management has an average of 21 yearly activations and 18 yearly Mobile Command Post deployments and had 14 disasters and emergencies from 2000-2016. Emergency Communications answers 150 or more 911 calls are day and supports more than 190 police-related incidents and 140 or more fire and EMS-related incidents per day.
In all, the county-wide emergency radio communication system handles 10,000 radio transmissions per day.