New Emergency Operations Center opens to public

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INDIO, Calif. - The new Emergency Operations Center in Indio is now official and was open to the public Monday. 

We were the first to show you inside the new facility. It is so advanced it could run all of Riverside County if needed during a catastrophic emergency.

Volunteers, who toured the new center say this new command center will help save lives.

"If we didn't have it, we wouldn't be able to help as many people," said volunteer ham radio operator Pat Case.  

When the big one hits, this new Emergency Operations Center will be how help will get to you.

"That's what it is about, saving lives and saving property and at the end of the day trying to rebuild and get people back to normalcy," said Peter Lent, deputy director of the Office of Emergency Services.  

The $11 million in upgrades outfitted the center so it will still be standing after a major earthquake and can run all on its own for up to 15 days.

"Whether it is a fire, a flood or an earthquake, we need to have a facility where everyone can come together and make the decision that need to be made of the benefit of the public," said Lent.

"Seeing it in person, wow it's just unbelievable and talking with some of the firefighters here and the roles and everything that is going to be done, it's amazing," said volunteer Reverend Mark-Anthony Torres.

"I think this is one of the greatest things they have ever done in the valley its just fantastic," said Case.

The old center, currently being demolished, operated in a cold-war era basement bomb shelter.

"It was very challenging for communications systems to work in there, while this new facility is state-of-the-art.  It's above ground, has fully redundant communications systems, redundant power systems and really provides the space we need to get the people we need in here to manage an emergency," said Lent.

Even though technology has advanced quite a bit since the days of ham radios, during a disaster, it's going to be the best way to communicate across the Valley. 

"Following any catastrophic event all news types of traditional technology will fail, history has shown that to us," said Lent.

There's a network of trained volunteers across the Valley.  

"Each coordinator, each one of them will contact me and give me reports on injuries, damage, fires," said Case. 

"The areas we don't hear from are the areas we need to be concerned about,' said Lent. 

There's even a place for people to sleep, so it can staffed around the clock if need be. 

"Hopefully we don't have to use it, but if we do, we are prepared," said Torres.

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