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Huntsville Center EOC streamlines COVID-19 response efforts

Huntsville Center Public Affairs
Published March 30, 2020
James Buhr, U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville project manager and Emergency Operations Center team member, listens during the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers daily commander’s telecon briefing March 25.

James Buhr, U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville project manager and Emergency Operations Center team member, listens during the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers daily commander’s telecon briefing March 25.

Antonio Santoscruz, (left) U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Emergency Operations Center operations and plans specialist, refers to a chart of COVID-19 response effort information during an EOC meeting with James Buhr, EOC team member (right) March 25.

Antonio Santoscruz, (left) U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Emergency Operations Center operations and plans specialist, refers to a chart of COVID-19 response effort information during an EOC meeting with James Buhr, EOC team member (right) March 25.

Antonio Santoscruz, U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Emergency Operations Center operations and plans specialist, compiles data for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers daily commander’s telecon briefing March 25.

Antonio Santoscruz, U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Emergency Operations Center operations and plans specialist, compiles data for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers daily commander’s telecon briefing March 25.

Bill Ferguson, U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Emergency Operations Center operations chief, prepares notes for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers daily commander’s telecon briefing March 25.

Bill Ferguson, U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Emergency Operations Center operations chief, prepares notes for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers daily commander’s telecon briefing March 25.

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Emergency Operations Center staff observe social distancing during operations at the Huntsville Center headquarters March 25.

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Emergency Operations Center staff observe social distancing during operations at the Huntsville Center headquarters March 25.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – As part of the unified national response to emergencies, the Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville is providing subject-matter experts and technical engineering expertise across the Corps enterprise during this historic time of need as the nation responds to the coronavirus epidemic.

Huntsville Center is supporting the Corps efforts in working with FEMA, the White House, DOD, and other federal, state and local partners by developing plans and specifications for the rapid conversion of hotels, barracks and arena-type facilities into ICU-capable hospitals for treating COVID-19 patients.

In order to streamline functions for this historic response effort, Huntsville Center established an emergency operations center.

“Given the tremendous requirements and associated information flow surrounding the national-level COVID-19 response, and the Corps involvement from an Emergency Support Function #3 mission in support of FEMA, we stood up a robust EOC to ensure the best possible coordination and communication for the COVID-19 response effort,” said Albert Marin III, Huntsville Center programs director.

While remaining flexible to shifting requirements for functionality, the EOC comprises personnel representing operations, security, logistics, resource management, legal and public affairs.

“In this historic time of coordination and communication across not only the Corps, but with federal and state organizations as well, new processes and innovative ideas are necessary to ensure we get the mission accomplished,” said Bill Ferguson, Huntsville Center operations chief.

This emergency operations center helps us streamline our COVID-19 response efforts,” Ferguson said.

The Center transitioned to maximum telework March 19, a measure consistent with U.S. Army and the Corps of Engineers’ guidance.

“Our number one priority is the health and safety of the public, our partners, stakeholders and workforce. We’re ensuring their safety and welfare while preserving our ability to deliver our programs – we can’t support the nation if we are sick,” said Col. Marvin Griffin, Huntsville Center commander.

While the workforce is on maximum telework, the EOC is the main hub coordinating the Center’s COVID-19 response efforts.

“The EOC is up and running at Huntsville Center and, along with Corps leadership, districts and divisions, and alongside federal and state entities, is focusing all efforts on the singular goal of defeating this pandemic,” Ferguson said.

Griffin said, Huntsville Center’s role in the COVID-19 response efforts would continue for as long as needed.

“We are working to create and refine products that enable the Corps to execute FEMA missions, while SMEs are being deployed to assist geographic districts as they begin to develop contracts and execute the work,” Griffin said.

“Challenging times brings out the best in us,” Griffin added, “and that is when you see the outstanding capabilities of the Corps team.”