Incident Command System
Incident Command System (ICS) is a structural Emergency Response and Risk management click here framework tool pertaining a chain of command for crucial and organized response in the event of a disaster. The system uses common terminology to attain control and direction which in turn averts confusion and conflict amid the incident.
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ICS was developed in the 1970’s by a group of agencies in Southern California for managing a series of wildland fires click here. Despite it originally being a fire control system, various agencies like; law enforcement, local, government agencies, and national disaster management unit have all embraced and enforced it.
Due to its all-agency management system, ICS principles have proven effective over time. For this to be a reality, the incident needing the management has to clearly be defined for consistency and clarity through the presentation of response objectives and goals.
ICS provides organizational guidance on how to manage personnel, equipment, procedures, and communication operating within the structure. It runs on 8 core concepts that fulfill its purpose. Namely;
- Common Terminology- For the use of a similar definition of descriptions, functionalities, and resources.
- Modular Organization- Assets and resources are organized according to their functionality and requirement.
- Integrated Communications-Open flow of communication within the organization as well as externally.
- Consolidated Action Plan- A unified command defined by a single documentation stating incident strategies, objectives, and goals.
- Unified Command Structure-Designated managers represent each field to establish a common strategy to achieve a goal.
- Manageable Span of Control-For effective supervision, an appropriate number of assets is appointed for supervision.
- Comprehensive Resource Management-A system to maintain, identify, describe, track, and request resources.
- Pre-designed Incident facilities-follow up of locations in which critical incident functions shall occur.
For this concept to effectively utilized, there is a five structured functional area; click here
1.Incident Command Center
The command is responsible for setting priorities and objectives. In essence, the entire successful running of the response team lies with the command. It is head by an Incident Command Officer whose main role is to;
- Ascertain clear authority with a clear grasp of agency policy
- Establishing a working incident command post while ensuring incident safety
- Laying down priorities, objectives and strategies footprints
- Establishing the ICS system while coordinating general and command staff responsibilities
- Approving the Incident Action Plan and resource requests
- Ensuring media release of information
- Ensuring completion of after-work reports
- Sounding out demobilization when needed
Incident Management Team
A select group of Emergency Management click here qualified personnel including the Incident Commander, command general staff make up the Incident Management Team (IMT) The level of experience, responsibilities, and training for the IMT determines the level and type.
The Command staff acts as additional functional support for the Incident Commander. They include Public Information Officer (PIO), Liaison Officer (LO) and Safety Officer (SO) together with various required functions that the Incident Commander assigns when required.
The General staff is the driving force of the Incident Command structure. It consists of the four functions under the Incident Commander namely the Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Administration/Finance functions. In some instances, the Intelligence function is usually included.
General Staff are required to operate under the following expectations;
- Only one individual takes the lead in each General Staff position
- Any qualified individual can take up the General Position regardless of the origin of agency
- General staff positions are to be operated separately
- Being directly under the Incident Commander, that is whom General Staff report to
- Qualified deputies can be appointed for General Staff heads
- General staff personnel should exchange information through the organization for a free flow of chain of command
- Safety Officer Responsibilities
-Carry out a preliminary investigation during an incident
-Be present in the planning meeting and come up with a medical plan
-Mitigate and prevent identified harmful occurrences and acts
– For safety standards, review the Incident Action Plan
-Qualified assistant to evaluate hazardous situations
-Ensure the circulation of safety briefings and messages
- Liaison Officer Responsibilities
-Act as agency representative point of contact
-Act as a front runner in coordinating interagency contacts
-Set-up and maintain a chronology of present agencies and representatives
-Provide capabilities, liabilities, and status concerning current resource
-Present agency-specific requirements on demobilization
-For future inter-organizational snags, monitor current incidents
- Public Information Officer Responsibilities
-Be present in the planning meetings
-Plan for the availability of tours and briefings
-Keep abreast with current media information while passing it along at the planning meeting
-Determine the limit scope on information release
-After press release approval from the IC, carry out timely briefing
-Update the Crisis communication team and spokesperson
2. Incident Command Planning
The ICP is headed by a Planning Section Chief, whose directive involves collecting, evaluating, and processing information to aid in developing action plans. The circulation of this information can be in various forms; as an Incident Action Plan, as a status board display or in the form of briefings.
- The Planning Section Chief responsibilities include;
-Preparation and supervision of the IAP while providing input to the Incident Commander
-Disseminate information concerning the incident status and report on changes
-Come up with a demobilization plan and other strategies
-Disassemble, assemble and reassign resources or personnel within the organization
-Include medical, communications plans, traffic, and relevant supporting functions into the IAP
-Procure a specialized resource need and data collection systems
3. Incident Command Logistics
Incident Command Logistics aids the IC and Operations in their functions through performing technical activities required to streamline the operational processes. The only exception is Air Operations. It is headed by a Logistics Section Chief.
- Logistics Section Chief Responsibilities entails
– ICL provides supplies, communications, transportation, facilities, equipment fueling, and maintenance, all off incident resources not forgetting food and medical services for responders.
- Logistic Section Chief Responsibilities entails;
–Provide all facilities, services, resources, and personnel.
–Managing all Incident Logistics while relaying to the IAP about the logistical input.
-Duly briefing the Logistics staff
-Procure anticipated services, requirements, and look into additional resources when needed.
3. Incident Command Operations
The ICO is in charge of all tactical operations by establishing and following up on a strategy to accomplish goals set by the Command. The Operation scope is dependent on the impact of the incident which in turn dictates the number of personnel and resources.
- The Operations Section Chief responsibilities;
-Carry out the actual tactical supervision and ensure tactical operator’s safety
-Develop the IAP operational portion and supervise the execution
-Expedient changes concerning the IAP
-Close contact should be maintained with the IC, personnel, and other agencies.
-For tactical support, the request should be requested.
4. Incident Command Administration /Finance
ICA steps in to support command with the administrative issues of tracking and processing financial resources. Some of these administrative issues includes financial accounting, regulatory control, and licensing requirements.
The finance section is usually not activated unless the involved agencies have a specific need.
- Finance/Administration responsibilities;
–All monetary aspect of an incident is managed by the Administrator
-Calculate cost and financial analysis information
-Documented obligations at the incident should be properly completed and prepared.
-Provide pertinent information and input to the IAP
-Work out and operate and incident commissary
-Meet with corresponding agency representatives
-Daily contact with agency headquarters on matters finance
5. Intelligence/ Investigations functions
Whenever there’s a terrorist or criminal activity preceding an incident it always involves gathering intelligence and investigations to get to the root cause. This is usually evidenced in man-made calamities such as bomb blasts. The Incident Commander assigns this responsibility in accordance to the incident.
The Incident Commander is the sole determinant of the decision regarding the Intelligence function placement within the other functions or as a separate entity. The essence of intelligence investigations is to allow swift proper management and coordination of resources so as;
-To mitigate the impact and deter similar future attacks
-Carry out due diligence information collection and dissemination for prompt situational awareness.
-Dispense mass mortality inquiry and look into missing person report.
-Follow up on comprehensively identifying and apprehending perpetrators.
-Determine the underlying cause of a present and ongoing incident to handle the impact.
-Create a chain of sequencing from identifying to storing specimens and evidence.
Emergency Operations Center
This is a space where all the functional planning is carried out. The ground zero of all operations communications and meetings. Technological assistance such as telephones, computers with high internet speed connectivity, photocopiers et al must be present.
An Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is to be activated in the event of a major incident that has the potential to cause significant property damage and disruption. The supplies needed in an EOC to be fully functional are the technological assistance, qualified key personnel to get the desired results from resulting planning. Food and medical supplies for the personnel in an EOC are paramount.
When all the functional operations are run under the recommended guidelines, handling disaster aftermath gets less overwhelming, a great lowering of human mortality is experienced, property loss is better handled and mitigated, and return to the previous running of an organization is seamless and faster.