Written by Jim Tapscott

The Greater Tampa Bay ACP Chapter recently toured the new Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center. We were graciously hosted by Preston Cook, Director of the Office of Emergency Management as well as other team members. We were provided a high-level overview of the Hillsborough County emergency response and recovery operations.

Some of the impressive statistics included:

  • The walls of the main building are 14.5 inches thick and can withstand a Category 5 Hurricane winds of up to 200 mph
  • The old command center had 60 workstations and the new center features just over 90 with room for as many as 250 people during a full-scale activation
  • There are 78 miles of computer networking cable in the building

Image courtesy of News Channel 8


Michelle VanDyke, a Media Relations Strategist with the County shared her team’s role in the EOC as well as how the communication methods have changed over time. She indicated that while her team serves the national media when there is an incident their top priority is the local news organizations. They are the best avenues for getting the details to the Hillsborough’s residents.

Michelle also detailed the County’s “Stay Safe” program and how they branded the campaign across all their platforms to keep the message simple and consistent for the county residents. Residents can create a profile with Hillsborough County’s official mass notification system which was designed to keep them informed about emergencies.

For more information on the Stay Safe  and the resources available, go to HCFLGov.net/StaySafe

Hillsborough County – Taking Emergency Response to Next Level 

Michelle VanDyke, Media Relations Strategist