Olympics response center opens

Published on Wed, Sep 16, 2009
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The first operational test of the combined 2010 Olympics Coordination Center (OCC) in Bellingham has been pronounced a success by officials at the local, state and federal levels.

The center was staffed around the clock for the first two days of the recent World Police and Fire games in Vancouver, B.C., and remained operational 12 hours each day through the end of the Games. Operations were intended to closely simulate what is anticipated during the Winter Olympics in February 2010.

During the Olympics the center’s purpose will be to provide coordination and support for agencies responsible for emergency responses on the U.S. side of the border.

The center, near Bellingham International Airport, will house representatives from local, state and federal agencies to provide coordination in the event of an emergency. It will not assume command of any incident responses, but will actively support agencies that do.

During the Olympics, the center will operate 24 hours a day. A basic team will always be in place, with capacity to expand if an incident makes more robust staffing necessary.

Washington’s congressional delegation played a significant role in obtaining the $4.5 million necessary to turn a former warehouse into a well-equipped and fully functional coordination center. The center will be periodically activated for additional training for the 2010 Winter Paralympics.