Pantex Behind the Scenes: Operations and Emergency Services Dispatch Centers

  • Posted: Monday, March 24, 2014, 12:00 am

Robert Inglis and Forrest McLaughlin

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.

Dorcas Gaddis and Melodi PartonAt 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.