Before the storm, Newschannel 6 is checking-in with the Wichita County Emergency Management department to see what hoe the office is preparing for the February Freeze. Lee Bourgoin, Wichita County Emergency Management Coordinator says the office completed a total systems check Monday. Radio equipment was tested to make sure different agencies in the county can communicate. The Emergency Operations Center generator was tested.
The EOC has a number of communications systems to stay in-touch. One is Amateur Radio. "Ham" Radio Operators volunteer their time to operate the equipment that allows the EOC to communicate in real-time with the National Weather Center in Norman, OK. One of the Hams was at the EOC assisting Bourgoin with the tests.
Another system the EOC has on-tap is the Wichita County Code Red telephone alert system. It allows officials to communicate with the public over the phone. However, Bourgoin says it will probably not be used. "Normally, we use Code Red for evacuations and things like that. If it gets real bad, like if we have a bridge out or a lot of ice on one particular stretch of road, we may use that some to notify folks," he said.
The EOC is on standby to be activated. Bourgoin says he will wait for Dispatchers to notify him of any emergencies before opening the center. "We're going to remain vigilant, probably close up at normal business hours, but as the weather starts getting bad, around 2 or 3 am we will be contacted by our dispatchers if people get stranded on highways we'll come in and spin up our EOC," he said.
One responsibility of the EOC is coordinating any emergency shelters should drivers become stranded on highways. Bourgoin says the need will be assessed as it arises.