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State-of-the-art emergency operations center now open in Tooele County


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TOOELE COUNTY -- Tooele County is better equipped to handle emergency calls these days. A new emergency operations center is now up and running, but getting it built wasn't easy.

For a community that's growing as fast as Tooele County is, the need for an emergency operations center was, itself, an emergency. But the state-of-the-art equipment is only part of the story.

The building is a $4.5 million marvel. It's state-of-the art from the foundation to the top of its antenna. It is an important step toward being prepared in Tooele County. The most pressing concern was dealing with an earthquake.

Tooele County public information officer Wade Mathews explained, "Our biggest risk in Tooele County from widespread damage is an earthquake, so we built this facility with a 7.4 magnitude in mind."

The center offers more space and better equipment in a central location, all crucial during the chaos of a disaster.

There is also a way to tap into amateur radio operators, a key component in staying connected in a vast county like Tooele.

The equipment is new, but so are backup plans for keeping communication open at all costs.

Kari Sagers, the Tooele County emergency management director, said, "We have power failure phone lines, and we actually have a way to recover phone lines in an off-site location via satellite, in Houston, Texas, as a matter of fact."

Lt. Regina Campbell, with Tooele County dispatch said, "If we had to evacuate the building, or if we had an incident where we use our mobile command center, we basically have the same phone system as we have in here."

Getting the center up and running has taken dedication from the staff. In particular, Regina Campbell has been a key player. She was the subject of a "High 5" segment last month for working so hard on it.

In the event of earthquake, fire, flood, tornado, military disaster, Hazmat incident and more, Tooele County is as prepared as ever to respond.

It's not possible to underplay the importance of being prepared with a center like this. Salt Lake City is attempting to build something similar, but hasn't settled on a location yet.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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Richard Piatt

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