The On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) concept was originally developed by OCHA and the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group network. It was designed to assist affected countries in coordinating international search-and-rescue efforts following an earthquake. However, OSOCC's emergency management principles make it a valuable tool in any sudden-onset disaster involving international relief resources. Over the last decade, the OSOCC concept has been used during numerous disasters including floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and complex emergencies.
An OSOCC is set up to help local authorities in a disaster-affected country to coordinate international relief. Following a disaster, the OSOCC is established as soon as possible by the first arriving international urban search-and-rescue team or United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team deployed by OCHA.
The Virtual OSOCC is managed by the Activation and Coordination Support Unit.
An OSOCC has three primary objectives:
- To be a link between international responders and the Government of the affected country.
- To provide a system for coordinating and facilitating the activities of international relief efforts at a disaster site, notably following an earthquake, where the coordination of many international USAR teams is critical to ensure optimal rescue efforts.
- To provide a platform for cooperation, coordination and information management among international humanitarian agencies.
The OSOCC's size and functions vary according to the scale of the disaster. However, the basic structure (shown in the graphic below) should be modified to suit the requirements of each situation.
The Field Coordination Support Section of ESB in OCHA Geneva is managing the delivery of OSOCC courses.
OSOCC training courses are designed to train the participants in the OSOCC methodology, i.e. to establish a platform for coordination in a large-scale emergency with a multi-organization response. Furthermore, participants will receive training in the establishment of a Reception/Departure Centre (RDC) and Sub-OSOCC. The target audience for the course is urban search and rescue (USAR) liaison officers and team leaders, national emergency managers, cluster coordinators, coordinators from NGOs and from regional and international emergency management organizations, UNDAC members and technical support staff.
For a calendar of training events, please see visit the training section on the Virtual OSOCC website.
Reception Departure Centre
In many disasters there is a need to establish a Reception and Departure Centre (RDC) as a part of the OSOCC. The RDC should be located at the arrival point of international relief teams and relief items to facilitate and coordinate their arrival and further deployment. The RDC's primary responsibility is to register teams, provide an information briefing, direct teams to the OSOCC, and pass processed information of incoming teams to the OSOCC in order to facilitate its operational planning.
The RDC functions as a coordinating body for international relief traffic. It is intended to support the airport authorities with these activities. As the RDC may be the first point of contact for relief teams when arriving in the affected country, it must be prepared to facilitate the same basic services as that expected of an OSOCC. Some of the services expected by an RDC include situational updates, operational information, logistical support, and the facilitation of immigration/customs procedures for staff, equipment and humanitarian aid.