REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--Down a long hall at Garrison building 4488 there is a secure area that serves as the heartbeat of emergency operations at Redstone Arsenal.

The Garrison’s Installation Emergency Operations Center, formerly located across post in the basement of building 111, is now at home right where the Garrison wanted it " just a walk downstairs from the commander’s office.

That’s important, said Garrison IEOC employee Tamilene Harris, because when there is an emergency on post, the Garrison commander is immediately brought into the situation, providing leadership and final decision-making power on emergency operations implemented for the protection of Arsenal employees and assets.

“This is much more efficient for us,” said Harris, who serves as the Garrison’s chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosives program manager. “It makes it much more convenient for leadership.”

In addition to the commander, emergency operations " such as natural disasters, chemical emergencies, terrorist actions, weather situations and workplace accidents " involve all Garrison directors, who must report to the IEOC to assist in assessing and managing an emergency response.

“When there is an emergency, information is pushed down through our directors to our employees and through other emergency operations centers on post to include tenant organizations,” Harris said.

Besides the location, the new IEOC also offers the latest in technology, the best in emergency operations equipment, a conference room with video teleconferencing capability and a large enough situation room so that the 12-person IEOC staff can accommodate upwards of 50 or more people during an on-post emergency.

“During the April 27 tornado emergency, the IEOC was crowded and cramped. It was a really busy time,” Harris said. “This new space gives us the room we need so if the commander needs to have a meeting, he has a place right here to do that. There is space for all our directors plus representatives from the tenant organizations who need to come here during an emergency.”

Harris said the new IEOC also provides the equipment needed for the IEOC staff to be more effective in achieving the daily emergency management mission.

“The most important part of our job is what we do for others,” Harris said. “We have to manage emergencies well and take care of employees, Soldier units and their families. We have to manage for whatever emergency comes along.

“Each emergency that we work through improves us as we go along. No emergency is the same so we learn a lot about emergencies as we work through them.”