Robert Inglis and Forrest McLaughlin (seated) review incoming information at the
Operations Center, the 24-hour base often referred to as the Heart of Pantex.
“May I have your attention please?” The room
instantly grows quiet as Pantexan listen to the familiar voices for
directions, notifications or warnings. The Operations Center (OC) is
what some may call the Heart of Pantex. It is responsible
for 24-hour management of operations to ensure the overall safety and
efficiency of the Pantex Plant.
Established under the Department of Energy’s (DOE)
Occurrence Reporting Program in 1990, the OC strives to provide
information to the appropriate publics in a timely manner. The Center
began operations in a small conference room with few
supplies. The need for more equipment and space quickly became obvious.
Soon after, operations moved to the building where they remain today.
With 12 years of experience at the Plant, Matt
Eberly recently accepted the position as Emergency Services Group
manager, which encompasses both Fire and Emergency Management
Departments. “The work is extremely important because both the
OC and Emergency Services Dispatch Center (ESDC) programs require
prompt, safe and reliable action 24/7 to support Plant operations and
our surrounding communities,” said Eberly.
“The ESDC and OC teams are required to operate in
an environment where precision and effectiveness are critical. They
essentially work in the nerve center of all Plant operations.”
The OC consists of nine employees, each with at
least 30 years of experience at the Plant. Eight of them are Plant shift
superintendents, while Bill Ornelas is Pantex’s Move Right specialist.
The OC is responsible for a number of operations,
such as weather notification activities, movement of materials and
initiation of protective actions for Plant personnel.
Randy Nuttall, who started in the Maintenance
Department, enjoys working in the OC because of the diversity within the
job. “Every day is different. You never know what the call is going to
bring. And it helps that I work with the best
group of people,” said Nuttall.
At the Plant's Emergency Dispatch Center, Dorcas Gaddis and Melodi Parton (seated) monitor fire alarms from the Center's testing console.
Across the hall from the OC is the ESDC. Similar to
the OC, it houses nine employees working side-by-side. The ESDC is
responsible for testing fire alarms throughout the Plant, assisting
surrounding counties with emergency calls and for
medical and fire emergencies on Plant site.
When the ESDC first started operations in 2006, Don
Rhoades, a Pantex veteran, transferred with over 29 years of experience
in security. He said the transition was easy and normal, and he enjoys
where he is working now. “I love the job
itself. Our main goal is to protect life and property, and when I go
home at night, I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that I helped
people that day,” said Rhoades.
His colleagues, Dorcas Gaddis and Steve McWilliams
both agree that communication is what makes them successful. McWilliams
explained that the job comes with great pride in knowing potential lives
are saved each day.