With a growing number of emergencies each year, Bucks County government has completed an expansion and overhaul of the countywide emergency operations center.
The centrally-located Ivyland Borough facility, which co-located with the 9-1-1 center and hazmat team, was unveiled last week during a ceremony.
The new emergency operations center is 900 square feet bigger than the previous one, which served since the mid-2000s.
Bucks County Emergency Services Director Audrey Kenny said the new facility is designed to have the latest technology; expanded workspace for local, county, state, and federal authorities; and the ability to pipe in officials virtually. Additionally, there is a new training room that can be used for additional emergency operations when the center is activated.
When activated, the emergency operations center functions as the county’s primary hub for disaster response and recovery, coordinating resources and efforts across various emergency services, government entities, and nonprofit organizations.
The new center is better designed and has more technology, according to George Wilson, the county’s emergency management director of operations.
Wilson said the previous space wasn’t designed to be as collaborative as the new facility.
Contractors began work on the center, which sits in what was once the garage bays for the long-closed Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster, last summer and completed work in recent weeks.
County spokesperson James O’Malley said the entire project cost about $2 million, which was paid for with COVID-19 relief funds and federal homeland security dollars.
The emergency operations center presently has about a dozen partial or full activations each year, Wilson said.
Kenny said the new center will serve emergency services officials in Bucks County for years to come.
“This shows the commitment to this organization, to our 9-1-1 center, and to our emergency services team,” she said. “It really does demonstrate how important public safety is.”
Bucks County Project and Diversity Officer Bernard Griggs said the project ran into some challenges that delayed completion, but they were overcome and officials are happy with how the work turned out.
Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo, a Republican, recalled the site’s former use as an military facility and airport and noted how “beautiful” the transformation of the emergency operations facility has been.
Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia, a Democrat, said she was “thrilled” the expansion is completed and will help police, fire, EMS, and other emergency responders in times of crisis.
In a separate project, the county recently updated the 9-1-1 center to revamp the layout and provide call takers and dispatchers with new ergonomic chairs.