Bay County / Gulf Coast State College Joint Use Emergency Operations Center
A partnership between the County and the College results in a shared facility to train emergency operations personnel alongside their working counterparts.
The Joint Use Emergency Operations Center is a one-of-a-kind facility, the first of its type in Florida, and a model of partnership between a government agency and a college. Both Bay County and Gulf Coast State College use the building, with the students training side by side the regular County emergency operations personnel who work there on a daily basis. Among the facilities provided for emergency and training use are the Incident Command Center, a 911 dispatch area, a Homeland Security Office, and a press room. A food service area, lounges, wellness and fitness center, locker room and showers, sleeping quarters, parking and a helipad are also part of the complex. Smart classrooms, computer labs, offices, storage, and workrooms are provided for the college to train emergency personnel and for public safety classes, law enforcement, and first responders.
During a disaster or major storm event, the entire hardened building is turned over to the County to operate as their emergency operations center. Funding for the building was also shared, using both FEMA and Florida State PECO (Public Education Capital Outlay) monies. “It just makes good sense for students to be utilizing the facility as often as possible and getting the most out of our dollars that we’ve put into this building,” said Mark Bowen, Bay County Chief of Emergency Services.