MANCHESTER, N.H. – The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entire world and Manchester is no exception, but it more than likely would have hit the Queen City much harder if not for the Emergency Operations Center.
Established following 9/11, the Emergency Operations Center, or EOC as it is better known, has served as a consolidation point for the city’s first responders and various departments to facilitate decision making during emergency situations
In the past, Manchester’s EOC has been generally activated only for large storms, but EOC preparation and training has been ongoing over the past two decades for various types of situations.
During the COVID-19 crisis, efforts within the EOC has included officials from the Mayor’s office, American Medical Response ambulance service, the Manchester Fire Department, the Manchester Public Health Department and the Manchester Police Department, with participation as needed by the Manchester School District, Catholic Medical Center, Elliot Health Systems and Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
According to Manchester Fire Department Chief Dan Goonan and Manchester Health Department Chief Operations Officer Philip Alexakos, the collaboration between stake-holding groups directly within the EOC, nearby municipalities, state-level agencies and other local organizations have made it possible for accomplishments such as the setup of the flex capacity treatment center at SNHU within 72 hours and drop-in testing at the New Hampshire Armory for individuals identified with COVID-19 symptoms by health professionals.
Although the EOC’s efforts are largely focused on Manchester itself, mutual assistance and guidelines is being provied other communities across New Hampshire. Goonan also says that Manchester’s EOC has served as a template for other EOCs across New Hampshire.
“I feel in a lot of ways we’re way ahead of the rest of the state,” he said.
The current iteration of the EOC was activated on March 2, the same day as the first presumed positive case of COVID-19 in New Hampshire. As of March 23, a hotline operated by the EOC for Manchester residents without primary care providers showing COVID-19 symptoms has fielded 289 calls. As of March 26, the testing facility at the Armory has tested 761 people, focusing on healthcare providers, first responders and in-patient populations.
As of March 27, there are 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Manchester.
The aforementioned hotline (668-1547) will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 28 and open again from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday.