top of page


On Tuesday, November 22nd, the Senior Coalition visited the Buffalo County Emergency Operations Center, located beneath the Buffalo County Courthouse. During the 2006 Ice Storm that hit Kearney, Emergency Manager Darrin Lewis shared, the Emergency Center was assembled by pulling tables together, bringing phones in, moving chairs around, and setting up projection screens. Today, Darrin says setting up the Emergency Center has become as easy as flipping a switch to begin the meeting. Darrin told us that after much research, exploring, and planning, a simple model of his vision was created in 2009; made from sugar packets and quarters!

Sheriff Miller and Chief Waugh also attended the meeting. They informed us the area is jointly owned by the City and County and used as shared resource for Emergency Management.

Darrin informed us there are three ways to develop an emergency operations center: ICS (Instant Command Structure), ESF (a federal structure called the Emergency or Essential Service Function), and the model Buffalo County designed. In one area you'll see Operations, Logistics, and Planning (ICS). To supplement the ICS, they have 15 ESF areas including Paramedics, Fire Fighters, Law Enforcement, Hazmat Search & Rescue, Hospital, Volunteer COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster), Schools, Transportation, Public Works, and Utilities.

In the past 20 years, Buffalo County has experienced 19 federally declared disasters that met the federal level requiring strategic operations. Other disasters not meeting the federal level have also required the use of the facility like the 2022 summar hail storm, for example,which created roughly $32M worth of damage. Having this facility for issues like the flooding in 2019 and COVID mitigates those types of disasters. If operations exceed 24 hours, that is when the EOC is used.

A mobile response unit is also used in cases where the Emergency Management is needed in a remote location. A 28 foot Bluebird bus with the functionality of the EOC serves as the command post, tracking resources and assets for scene safety and accountability.

During any thunderstorm warning or tornado watch, the Emergency Operations Center is operational. From this room, they can sound sirens, run dispatch, and communicate with spotters. To be a spotter, you have to fall into three categories: Law Enforcement Officer, Amateur radio caller, or a Fire Fighter. Every year in March, a severe weather spotter training course is held for training to be a spotter.

40 views0 comments


bottom of page