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New Emergency Operations Center enhances readiness

Apr. 20, 2017, 8:39 AM

VUMC’s new Emergency Operations Center is located on the first floor of Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital. (photo by Joe Howell)

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s (VUMC) new 1,200-square-foot Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has large LED monitors lining freshly painted walls and a slew of telephones. The monitors are for viewing things like the patient census in emergency departments and VUMC hospitals and weather system images.

“This will be the central hub for managing VUMC’s response to any big disaster,” said Jeff Mangrum, R.N., director of Emergency Preparedness for VUMC.

The center opened in mid March, located under the seats of Langford Auditorium, in room 1008 of Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital. It was formerly located in Medical Center North.

“The good thing about being down in this location is we’re well protected against tornados, structural damage, things like that. We’re basically in a big bunker,” Mangrum said.

With a staff of four, Mangrum’s office helps keep VUMC prepared to respond to mass casualty events in the region, as well as to internal emergencies involving fire, tornadoes, snow storms, flooding, water main breaks, phone and clinical computer system failures, bomb threats, and so on. A system used throughout the United States, called the Hospital Incident Command System (HICS), provides the command structure for emergency response at VUMC.

When the EOC is activated, a cadre of VUMC leaders is trained to step into set roles as needed — incident commander, chief physician officer, safety officer, security officer, operations officer, public information officer, logistics officer, planning officer, etc.

In a disaster, a dozen or so of these officers working in the EOC will maintain contact with people in subordinate roles who have fanned out to manage various areas.

“HICS has 75 positions that can be activated in an incident to help command all of our resources — our overflow locations to manage patients during any type of big disaster, the labor pool that would be activated, our discharge coordination centers, our visitor coordination centers, our family reunification areas — that would be utilized during a mass casualty event to get people back to their loved ones,” Mangrum said.

The EOC is wired for both video conferencing and teleconferencing. The wall-mounted monitors can receive signals wirelessly, displaying information from laptops, tablets and smartphones. Chris Williams, a director with the office of the Chief Operating Officer, designed and set up the EOC’s audio-visual infrastructure.

HICS and the EOC are also activated for major site visits that affect accreditation of various VUMC programs (visits by the Joint Commission, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, etc.).

The backup EOC location remains the Wadington Conference Room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

For information on emergency preparedness at VUMC, go to

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