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Emergency Operations Center Passes Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Test

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
blucolt/Wikimedia Commons

As the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally grows in size, state agencies see the need to prepare for a large-scale disaster.  According to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, the first-ever Emergency Operations Center activated during the 2013 edition of rally worked well and will be invaluable for when a large crowd arrives for the 75th rally in 2015.

For several years the state has activated an EOC during disasters or emergencies such as blizzards or flooding. In such instances, the EOC functions to support local responders by assuring dependable communication, receiving and disseminating accurate and timely information and coordinating personnel and resources in response to an incident or emergency.

Working alongside service members from the South Dakota National Guard, the rally EOC set up operations at the Joint Force Headquarters Readiness Center on Camp Rapid.  A medical or public-health emergency during a rally would require a quick and coordinated response from many different agencies, including local hospitals, ambulance services, medical personnel and other first responders across the Black Hills.

During the 2013 rally, staff in the EOC gathered information from local officials on a variety of topics, compiled a situation report and distributed that back to all local and state personnel involved in the operation. A typical report would include information on weather conditions and forecasts, rally and non-rally events in the region that could be expected to draw large crowds, traffic flow and back-ups, fire conditions, any public-health concerns, availability or shortage of critical resources ranging from water supplies and power to ambulances and hospital occupancy.

Local and state officials will assess the operation of the EOC during the past rally to identify strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to make the operation even more effective in future rallies.

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