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EMA mobile command center keeping ‘eye’ on Fall Festival

Published: Oct. 9, 2021 at 9:54 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 9, 2021 at 11:07 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The last day of the Fall Festival also means the busiest.

Crews were working all week to make sure the event was as safe as possible.

Introducing the “Eye of the Fall Festival,” which is officially referred to as the MEOC.

“Mobile Emergency Operations Center, so basically it’s a command post that’s used for disasters and the planning of large-scale festivals, fairs of this nature,” Nick Adams, the Deputy Director of Emergency Management said.

This command post has 34 cameras on Franklin Street, which were all installed by the West Side Nut Club.

Officials say 29 of them were operational for the festival, keeping “an eye” on the traffic.

“So, we have four cameras on the critical infrastructure downtown, the Ford Center, Civic Center building, Old National Events Plaza, the library,” Adams said. “Those are all PTZ cameras. We put one at [Swonder Ice Arena] so we can take a look at the old Roberts Park, where we do food distribution at Hartke Pool and Swonder, we can basically monitor that. We can see that section of the Lloyd Expressway to see what the traffic situation looks like there if something were to happen on that side of town.”

So what kind of situations does this trailer help prepare for?

“We’ve put some technology in it so it can go anywhere in District 10 - there are 12 counties in Indiana that it can go to,” Adams said. “A couple of years ago, Spencer County 911 got hit by lightning and they didn’t have a place to operate out of. We set this up at the port and ran all their 911 lines and computers, and they ran out of this as their backup dispatch for three months.”

Nothing quite as “serious” for the Fall Festival, but officials say it helps them monitor the weather, all of the 911 calls that occur throughout the day in the city, and of course, the foot traffic.

Past city events helped with that decision.

“The reason why the cameras came to mind for us is when we had President Trump come to the Ford Center during his campaign and they filled the Trump Center, and there was all that overflow that was downtown outside,” Adams said. “There wasn’t any situational awareness to take a look at that crowd and determine if anything was going to potentially occur.”

With a crowded Franklin Street, something as simple as a few “maps” will help get crews there fast.

“Part of the incident action plan is we put maps in there and the maps consist of the east division and west division,” Adams said. “If something were to occur, give us a geographic location in which those resources are needed. Give us a booth number, a ride name, a physical location, and then get some information on what the nature of the incident is.”

Officials say the trailer has been upgraded three different times and would cost roughly between $150,000 and $200,000 to replace all the equipment inside.

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