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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Blaine opened the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on March 13. The EOC has been up and running continuously since then. The city’s EOC is designed to coordinate the city’s emergency response to situations such as tornadoes, major chemical spills, or other large-scale events that can threaten the health and safety of the community. In the past, the EOC has been activated for tornado response in Blaine.
Blaine is home to many large events throughout the year such as the 3M Open, Target USA Cup, and a number of concerts at the National Sports Center. Given the scale of these events, the city made the position of Emergency Management Director a full time position instead of a part-time position in 2019. The Blaine City Council invested in upgrading the stock of personal protective equipment (PPE) and technology needed to respond to major events, building on preparation work that had been done before.
The city also invested in increasing the number of staff trained for emergency response at all levels in order to provide for more redundancy and backup. City staff can set up the EOC in a matter of minutes to be fully functional and ready to go.
In 2017, the city implemented CivicReady, an emergency notification system for residents and staff. The city can now immediately notify staff to activate the EOC and provide instant messages to residents who are signed up for CivicReady notifications.
While a tornado can be a couple week operation, the COVID-19 pandemic will be an operation that stretches into months. The city is now in a continuity of operations plan phase where constant monitoring of the local and regional situation will guide the decision making process to ensure that essential services are being delivered to residents. These include:
One of the things EOC staff are working on is how to stage a re-implementation of normal operations and what phases will be involved. Over the years, the Blaine City Council has invested in the city’s EOC operation making Blaine very well prepared to handle the current situation.
According to Emergency Management Director Captain Dan Pelkey, “We are getting a lot of support from our residents and we really appreciate that. We especially want to thank all of our staff for rising to the challenge of working under difficult conditions to ensure that we can still deliver city services with as little disruption as possible.”
For more information on the city’s response to COVID-19, visit BlaineMN.gov/COVID19