Grab Your Bag and Bug Out… To the EOC: EOC Planning Section Kit

Ashley Morris
6 min readDec 31, 2021


Emergency managers know the value of grab and go preparedness. Preparedness kits for homes, cars, and evacuation needs are touted to the public as a way to be safe and resilient during local disaster. However, what about for us?

Just like residents, emergency managers have to be ready to hit the ground running when an emergency occurs. While some disasters can be forecasted (large storms), other disasters can occur without any warning at all (refinery explosions, acts of violence, and transportation accidents). We must be ready to spring into action to fulfill our job duties at a moments notice.

For most emergency managers, a large emergency means hours spent in the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC). For those on Incident Management Teams or participating in Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request deployments, that could be a rapid deployment out of town to an EOC or a command post. Lastly, some emergency managers have direct deployments to the field as duty officers. Given the wide range of work environments, objectives, and assignments, emergency management supplies can vary widely. However, we will be focusing on EOC support deployment packs with an emphasis on the planning section.

Plans section EOC packs have items that are helpful for all EOC positions as well as Planning-specific item for duties. During activation and/or deployment, an emergency manager is more effective when tools and supplies are on hand, organized, and ready to be used. Below is a list of helpful items to jump start your kit in 2022:

EOC Supply Specifics:

For those deploying to a local EOC or assisting other jurisdictions on an incidents management team, we have some items to help with your team success.

  • EOC Task Books: Task books are required to help IMT members record training experience gained on deployment in order to obtain proper credentials to be a self-sufficient resource in the future. Task books can vary depending on the specific team requirements, region, and team expectations. Be sure to talk to your team about what task book standard is in place and what they expect. Once you have a clear understanding of what is required, be sure to pack a few extra copies of the important task book pages. This may include skill pages and incident record pages. If you are trying to credential for multiple positions (Plans Section Chief, Situation Unit Leader, Logistics Section Chief), be sure to bring copies of those books and/or pages as well. You may be able to work on several depending on what tasks you are assigned during the activation or deployment.
  • Sheet Protectors: Whether rain or shine, you will want to keep your activation documentation free from rain wrinkles and coffee stains. Use a few to protect your task book pages. You can use others to protect essential paperwork being worked on during deployment. A last use is to provide copies of important documents to a visiting VIP (governor elected official) to make the items look nice.
  • FEMA Activity Log 214 Books: Everyone should be familiar with activity logs and the significance of recording activities and time in the EOC. Some companies sell waterproof 214 notebook sheets in a small pocket-sized book. Never a bad idea to have a couple of those and some paper 214 forms to use if the location you are working at does not have any or a working printer. Activity logs are one of the first forms you will be working on after arriving.
  • ICS Forms: Having copies of all key ICS forms in an organized accordion travel folder will allow you to start documentation immediately upon arrival. Have multiple copies of forms used to create an Incident Action Plan (IAP), and include some other useful forms such as the ICS-215 operational plan worksheet and the ICS-209 incident summary.
  • Pre-Built IAPS: On top of having individual forms, it is also useful to have some IAP’s premade and stapled for easy IAP creation.
  • Meeting Schedule: Laminate or place a meeting schedule form in a sheet protector and bring along a dry erase marker. The meetings can be written and erased each operational period.
  • Hand-Held Field Operations Guide: These can also be purchased or given to you by your IMT team and could be a helpful reference of ICS or large operations decisions.
  • T-Card Holder: If you have taken any thorough planning section classes, you will know how valuable T-Cards can be to resource management and awareness. It is recommended to have a few of these on hand for deployment since many EOCs do not typically utilize them often. If you bring multiple, you can set up your T-Card system to reflect current resources deployed at the incident, resources at staging or out of service, and designated resources assigned for the next operational period.
  • T-Cards: While it would be idea to have T-Card packs in all available colors, make sure you at least have blue (aviation), yellow (miscellaneous), and pink (fire apparatus).
  • Colored Paper: It is never a bad idea to keep blank colored printer paper (in multiple different colors) to use for ICS forms to distinguish between different ones. For General Message forms (ICS-213), you can print those on colored paper to help people spot message forms easily in the swirl of paper they have at their EOC position desk.
  • Electric Back-Up Drive/Digital Forms: On top of paper, have digital forms ready to be loaded on your laptop or computer. You can have a cloud storage system or a physical cloud storage system. It is recommended to have both in the event that the cloud fails. The digital forms on hand should be the same forms discussed above.
  • Hand Counter: Counters can help with operations such as feeding, sheltering, and distribution. They can also be helpful for resource counts assigned to the Resource Unit Leader. Keep a couple of these in your pack.
  • Writing Utensils (Of All Kinds): While much of what we do in the EOC is digital now, being able to throw a map or diagram up on a whiteboard and physically write on it can help us work through challenges and problem solve more effectively. Get a good pencil box and include different types of erasable and permanent pencils, pens, markers, and highlighters. Be sure to include sharpeners, rules, stencils, and erasers. BIC flair pens have been knows to writes monthly on a T-Card. You may also want to check out some magic erasers.
  • Thick Sheet Stapler: Purchase one of these to be devotes to stapling IAPs. On large incidents, IAPs can be quite thick!
  • General Administration Supplies: This includes the typical office supplies you use, as well as hygiene items, medicines and prescriptions, caffeine, snacks, clothing, and waterproof bags.
  • File Holders and Stickers: Being able to build your own easy to understand file system will ensure the reimbursement and documentation process with be easily completed. Include some Avery Labels that can be used during the pandemic.
  • Laptop label: It is never a bad idea to purchase a labeler and label ALL of the items in your kit with your name on it. You can also place you name and EOC position large over the back of your laptop.
  • Tape: Many different tapes may be useful for your deployment. Consider keeping some of the following: masking tape, painter’s tape, package tape, and duct tape.
  • Mobile Projector: Sometimes, EOC’s may not be as equipped as we thought they were. Bringing your own small projection will allow you to display another screen up in the EOC or highlight a map you are working on.
  • Pocket Folders: To help keep track and organize any previous IAPs.

There you have it! A starter go-to list for your planning section kit. What supplies am I missing that you have? New year — new you. Use 2022 to start scavenging those EOC bags!



Ashley Morris

CEM | MD Emergency Management | Preparedness & Alerts & Plans | IMT | Social Media | VOST | SVI | Weather Forecasting | Geoscientist | GIS | ♥️🚒 #EMGTwitter