Commonwealth Unveils New State-of-the-Art Situational Awareness Unit

December 8, 2017  //  

December 6, 2017

RICHMOND—Governor Terry McAuliffe today joined Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern and emergency management professionals to officially cut the ribbon for the new Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) Situational Awareness Unit (SAU) facility, as well as to formally recognize the unit’s structural reorganization. After a $250,000 renovation, a refocused and forward-leaning mission, and a new name, the Situational Awareness Unit has re-emerged as the main emergency point of contact for the Commonwealth.

The SAU connects the VEOC to local emergency managers, other state emergency operations centers across the country, and to homeland security and emergency response agencies at the federal level. Staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the unit coordinates day-to-day situational assessments, alerts and warnings, resource management, operational planning and reporting, and external emergency communications for Virginia’s state and local emergency response agencies.

SAU staff monitor social and traditional media information feeds, telephone hotlines, and direct communications with first responders, local governments, emergency managers, Dominion Energy, Virginia State Police and other entities. SAU officers then assess threats, monitor emergency incidents as they develop, dispatch med-flight, search-and-rescue and HAZMAT teams to assist local emergency response agencies, and provide a continuous stream of intelligence to decision makers.

“The SAU is the nerve center of Virginia’s emergency management system, connecting local, state, federal and private-sector emergency managers and partners with the resources they need to keep Virginians safe,” said Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. “The SAU staff are first responders themselves in the respect that they monitor and analyze natural and man-made disasters as they happen, and provide resources and information to decision makers mobilizing Virginia’s response.”

“While VDEM has undergone a three-year process to become a more proactive and responsive emergency management organization, we quickly recognized the need to modernize our 24/7 coordination center,” said VDEM State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern. “This is why we have doubled the number of staff assigned to the SAU’s 24/7 operations and we have invested more than $250,000 to completely rebuild the physical plant and technology used for SAU operations.”

The new SAU facility is located in the Virginia Emergency Operations Center co-located with Virginia State Police headquarters on Midlothian Turnpike in Richmond. The new SAU has been in operation since September 2017.

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund