A samovar sits at the back of the Emergency Operations Center, waiting to be filled with coffee on occasions when the room is filled with Knoxville and Knox County leaders managing a disaster. I also spotted a coffee maker in a prominent place in the building and a portable coffee maker in the center of the Mobile Command Post.
Members of the FBI Knoxville Citizens Academy Alumni Association toured the Emergency Operations Center, the Mobile Command Post and the 911 call center on Monday evening. One of the 911 operators wished us a “good morning” as a joke. They were just beginning their 12-hour shift at 6:30 p.m.
We gathered around a supervisor’s terminal as he took some calls and told us about the center. His terminal alone had received almost 300 calls since midnight. While we were there, the stream of incoming calls was steady. Technology now allows the Knoxville operators to easily transfer a call to a neighboring jurisdiction. For example, we witnessed a call from someone in Sevier County whose cell phone had connected to Knox County tower.
Our host and tour guide was Colin Ickes, Operations Officer with the Knox County Emergency Management Agency. He told us about the upcoming Emergency Preparedness Fair on September 21 on the campus of Cokesbury Church.
Colin also mentioned the tongue-in-cheek zombie preparedness campaign started by the CDC. As it turns out, being ready for zombies means you’re also ready for a disaster that might actually happen.