The Incident Command System

Designated Facilities: Facilities should be clearly defined. A Command Post or a staging area may be established based on the incident requirements.

Resource Management: Usually performed at a staging area, resource management can maximize resource use, reduce the load on communications, provide accountability, consolidate control of a large, single resource, and reduce the chance of people freelancing.

There are five functional areas that may be implemented as needed to respond to an incident. They are:

Command: Sets objectives and priorities, has overall responsibility at the incident or event.

Operations: Conducts tactical actions to carry out the plan and develops the tactical objectives, organization and directs all resources.

Planning: Develops the Action Plan to accomplish the objectives, collects and evaluates information, maintains resource status and documents the incident.

Logistics: Provides support to meet incident needs, provides resources and all other services needed to support the incident.

Finance and Administration: Monitors costs related to the incident. Provides accounting, procurement, time recording and cost analysis.

You will notice the three positions under the Incident Commander. These are called the Command Staff and consist of the following positions…

Information Officer: Point of contact for the media and other people or organizations seeking information.

Safety Officer: Monitors safety conditions and develops measures for assuring the safety of all personnel.

Liaison Officer: Point of contact for other agency representatives involved in the incident or event, aids in coordinating their involvement.

Depending on the size of your organization you may activate some or all of these positions. But any task not assigned is the responsibility of the Incident Commander. I would recommend always assigning someone the position of Information Officer. The importance of collecting accurate information for dissemination to the media or even to your staff and facility users cannot be underscored enough.

You will notice in the Facility ICS chart there are several positions under Operations that you may wish to establish. They are…

Site Check and Security: If necessary these individuals would assess damage, cordon off unsafe areas and direct first responders when they arrive.

Crisis Team: These individuals would handle any psychological issues experienced by the users or staff during the response or recovery phase of the incident.

Medical Team: These individual would address any medical needs.

Care: These individuals account for, supervise and reassure the facility users. They should occupy them with activities, but also be aware of any signs of stress or injuries.

Reunion Team: These individuals are responsible for reuniting any children with an authorized adult.

Each of these teams would have a team leader with simple-to-follow one- or two-page guidelines. Each team member would also have his or her own sheet of guidelines. And every position would have whatever supporting job aids and equipment needed to accomplish their task.

Don’t think that the positions I’ve used as examples are written in stone. You may chose to not have a Crisis Team, because of the lack of need or qualified personnel. Or, you may have personnel qualified and the need to conduct search and rescue operations, in which case you might form a Search and Rescue Team.

One of the strengths of ICS is its flexibility. In fact, when beginning the planning process, I recommend starting with, at least, the Facility Commander, Information Officer, Medical Team, Care Team and Reunion Team. With these initially in place, you should be able to respond to most situations.

There are a couple of other terms that I believe are important in understanding ICS…

Command Post: Pretty much self-explanatory, the CP is where the Incident Commander and his or her staff are located and the primary command functions are performed. All events must have one CP.

Unified Command: When an event has several major players, those in charge of the different organizations share the decision-making process. Usually one has the final say.

ICS can also be useful as an aid during plan development. For example, the Medical Team Leader and several of his or her team members should work with local Emergency Medical personnel in the development of the Medical Team’s guidelines and predetermining possible triage areas. In other words, delegate the planning process by using ICS.

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  1. The Incident Command System
  2. Where To Start
  3. A Plan For Action
  4. Perfect Your Loss-Prevention Program
  5. Just In Case
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