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Incident Command System

Incident Command System

Overview

The Incident Command System (ICS) is "a systematic tool used for the command, control, and coordination of emergency response" according to the United States Federal Highway Administration. A more detailed definition of an ICS according to the United States Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance is "a set of personnel, policies, procedures, facilities, and equipment, integrated into a common organizational structure designed to improve emergency
Emergency
An emergency is a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or environment. Most emergencies require urgent intervention to prevent a worsening of the situation, although in some situations, mitigation may not be possible and agencies may only be able to offer palliative...

 response operations of all types and complexities.
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Encyclopedia

The Incident Command System (ICS) is "a systematic tool used for the command, control, and coordination of emergency response" according to the United States Federal Highway Administration. A more detailed definition of an ICS according to the United States Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance is "a set of personnel, policies, procedures, facilities, and equipment, integrated into a common organizational structure designed to improve emergency
Emergency
An emergency is a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or environment. Most emergencies require urgent intervention to prevent a worsening of the situation, although in some situations, mitigation may not be possible and agencies may only be able to offer palliative...

 response operations of all types and complexities. ICS is a subcomponent of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), as released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2004." An ICS is based upon a flexible, scalable response organization providing a common framework within which people can work together effectively. These people may be drawn from multiple agencies that do not routinely work together, and ICS is designed to give standard response and operation procedures to reduce the problems and potential for miscommunication on such incidents. ICS has been summarized as a "first-on-scene" structure, where the first responder of a scene has charge of the scene until the incident has been declared resolved, a more qualified responder arrives on scene and receives command, or the Incident Commander appoints another individual Incident Commander.

Overview


ICS consists of a standard management hierarchy and procedures for
managing temporary incident(s) of any size.
ICS procedures should be pre-established and sanctioned by participating authorities, and personnel should be well-trained prior to an incident.

ICS includes procedures to select and form temporary management hierarchies
to control funds, personnel, facilities, equipment, and communications.
Personnel are assigned according to established standards and procedures previously sanctioned by participating authorities.
ICS is a system designed to be used or applied from the time an incident occurs until the requirement for management and operations no longer exist.

ICS is interdisciplinary and organizationally flexible to meet the following management challenges:
  • Meets the needs of a jurisdiction to cope with incidents of any kind or complexity (i.e. it expands or contracts as needed).
  • Allows personnel from a wide variety of agencies to meld rapidly into a common management structure with common terminology.
  • Provide logistical and administrative support to operational staff.
  • Be cost effective by avoiding duplication of efforts, and continuing overhead.
  • Provide a unified, centrally authorized emergency organization.

History



ICS was originally developed in the 1970s during massive wildfire suppression efforts in California and following a series of catastrophic wildfire
Wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

s in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

's urban interface. Property damage ran into the millions, and many people died or were injured. Studies determined that response problems often related to communication and management deficiencies rather than lack of resources or failure of tactics. ICS fell under California's Standardized Emergency Management System or SEMS. In 2003, SEMS went national with the passage of Homeland Security Directive number 5 "mandating" all federal, state, and local agencies use NIMS or the National Incident Management System
National Incident Management System
The National Incident Management System is emergency management doctrine used nationwide to coordinate emergency preparedness and incident management and response among the public and private sectors.NIMS is a comprehensive, national approach to incident management that is applicable at all...

 to manage emergency in order to receive federal funding.

Weaknesses in incident management were often due to:
  • Lack of accountability, including unclear chains of command and supervision.
  • Poor communication due to both inefficient uses of available communications systems and conflicting codes and terminology.
  • Lack of an orderly, systematic planning process.
  • No predefined methods to integrate inter-agency requirements into the management structure and planning process effectively.
  • Freelancing by individuals with specialized skills during an incident without coordination with other first responders
  • Lack of knowledge with common terminology during an incident.


Emergency managers determined that the existing management
Management
Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively...

 structures — frequently unique to each agency — did not scale to dealing with massive mutual aid
Mutual aid (emergency services)
In emergency services, mutual aid is an agreement among emergency responders to lend assistance across jurisdictional boundaries. This may occur due to an emergency response that exceeds local resources, such as a disaster or a multiple-alarm fire. Mutual aid may be ad hoc, requested only when...

 responses involving dozens of distinct agencies and when these various agencies worked together their specific training and procedures clashed. As a result, a new command and control paradigm
Paradigm
The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

 was collaboratively developed to provide a consistent, integrated framework for the management of all incidents from small incidents to large, multi-agency emergencies.

Jurisdiction and legitimacy


In the United States, ICS has been tested by more than 30 years of emergency and non-emergency applications. All levels of government are required to maintain differing levels of ICS training and private sector organizations regularly use ICS for management of events. ICS is widespread in use from law enforcement to every-day business
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

, as the basic goals of clear communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

, accountability
Accountability
Accountability is a concept in ethics and governance with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as responsibility, answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving...

, and the efficient use of resources are common to incident and emergency management as well as daily operations. ICS is mandated by law for all Hazardous Materials responses nationally and for many other emergency operations in most states. In practice, virtually all EMS
Emergency medical services
Emergency medical services are a type of emergency service dedicated to providing out-of-hospital acute medical care and/or transport to definitive care, to patients with illnesses and injuries which the patient, or the medical practitioner, believes constitutes a medical emergency...

 and disaster response agencies utilize ICS, in part after the United States Department of Homeland Security
United States Department of Homeland Security
The United States Department of Homeland Security is a cabinet department of the United States federal government, created in response to the September 11 attacks, and with the primary responsibilities of protecting the territory of the United States and protectorates from and responding to...

 mandated the use of ICS for emergency services throughout the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 as a condition for federal preparedness funding. As part of FEMA
Federal Emergency Management Agency
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, initially created by Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978 and implemented by two Executive Orders...

's National Response Plan
National Response Plan
The National Response Plan was a United States national plan to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks. It came into effect in December 2004 , and was superseded by the National Response Framework on March 22, 2008....

 (NRP), the system was expanded and integrated into the National Incident Management System
National Incident Management System
The National Incident Management System is emergency management doctrine used nationwide to coordinate emergency preparedness and incident management and response among the public and private sectors.NIMS is a comprehensive, national approach to incident management that is applicable at all...

 (NIMS).

ICS is widely used in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 recommended the use of ICS as an international standard. ICS is also used by agencies in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

.

New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 has implemented a similar system, known as the Coordinated Incident Management System
Coordinated Incident Management System
The New Zealand Coordinated Incident Management System is New Zealand's system for managing the response to an incident involving multiple responding agencies...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 has the Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System
Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System
In Australia, the Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System is the nationally recognised system of organizational principles and structure used to manage wildfires and other large emergencies utilizing the All Agencies approach...

 and British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, has BCERMS developed by the Provincial Emergency Program
Provincial Emergency Program
The Provincial Emergency Program is a division of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Emergency Management British Columbia, Canada. PEP works with local governments and other provincial and federal agencies year round, providing coordination and support before, during and after...

.

In Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, ICS is also used by The Fire Department of the State of Rio de Janeiro(CBMERJ) in every emergency or large scale events.

Incidents


Incidents are defined within ICS. as unplanned situations necessitating a response. Examples of incidents may include:
  • Emergency medical situations
    Emergency medical services
    Emergency medical services are a type of emergency service dedicated to providing out-of-hospital acute medical care and/or transport to definitive care, to patients with illnesses and injuries which the patient, or the medical practitioner, believes constitutes a medical emergency...

     (ambulance
    Ambulance
    An ambulance is a vehicle for transportation of sick or injured people to, from or between places of treatment for an illness or injury, and in some instances will also provide out of hospital medical care to the patient...

     service)
  • Hazardous material spills
  • Terrorist
    Terrorism
    Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

     attacks
  • Natural disaster
    Natural disaster
    A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard . It leads to financial, environmental or human losses...

    s such as wildfire
    Wildfire
    A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

    s, flood
    Flood
    A flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land. The EU Floods directive defines a flood as a temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water...

    ing, earthquake
    Earthquake
    An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

     or tornado
    Tornado
    A tornado is a violent, dangerous, rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. They are often referred to as a twister or a cyclone, although the word cyclone is used in meteorology in a wider...

  • Man-made disasters such as vehicle crashes, industrial accidents, train derailment
    Derailment
    A derailment is an accident on a railway or tramway in which a rail vehicle, or part or all of a train, leaves the tracks on which it is travelling, with consequent damage and in many cases injury and/or death....

    s, or structure fire
    Structure fire
    A structure fire is a fire involving the structural components of various residential buildings ranging from single-family detached homes and townhouses to apartments and tower blocks, or various commercial buildings ranging from offices to shopping malls...

    s
  • Search and Rescue
    Search and rescue
    Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

     operations
  • Hostage crises
    Hostage crisis
    A hostage crisis develops when one or more terrorists or criminals hold people against their will and try to hold off the authorities by force, threatening to kill the hostages if provoked or attacked....

  • Technological crisis

Events


Events are defined within ICS as planned situations. Incident command is increasingly applied to events both in emergency management and non-emergency management settings. Examples of events may include:
  • Concerts
  • Parades and other ceremonies
  • Fairs and other gatherings
  • Training exercises

Unity of command


Each individual participating in the operation reports to only one supervisor. This eliminates the potential for individuals to receive conflicting orders from a variety of supervisors, thus increasing accountability, preventing freelancing, improving the flow of information, helping with the coordination of operational efforts, and enhancing operational safety. This concept is fundamental to the ICS chain of command structure.

Common terminology


Individual response agencies previously developed their protocols separately, and subsequently developed their terminology separately. This can lead to confusion as a word may have a different meaning for each organization.

When different organizations are required to work together, the use of common terminology
Terminology
Terminology is the study of terms and their use. Terms are words and compound words that in specific contexts are given specific meanings, meanings that may deviate from the meaning the same words have in other contexts and in everyday language. The discipline Terminology studies among other...

 is an essential element in team cohesion and communications, both internally and with other organizations responding to the incident.

An incident command system promotes the use of a common terminology and has an associated glossary of terms that help bring consistency to position titles, the description of resources and how they can be organized, the type and names of incident facilities, and a host of other subjects. The use of common terminology is most evident in the titles of command roles, such as Incident Commander, Safety Officer or Operations Section Chief.

Management by objective


Incidents are managed by aiming towards specific objectives. Objectives are ranked by priority; should be as specific as possible; must be attainable; and if possible given a working time-frame. Objectives are accomplished by first outlining strategies (general plans of action), then determining appropriate tactics (how the strategy will be executed) for the chosen strategy.

Flexible and modular organization


Incident Command structure is organized in such a way as to expand and contract as needed by the incident scope, resources and hazards. Command is established in a top-down fashion, with the most important and authoritative positions established first. For example, Incident Command is established by the first arriving unit.

Only positions that are required at the time should be established. In most cases, very few positions within the command structure will need to be activated. For example, a single fire truck at a dumpster fire will have the officer filling the role of IC, with no other roles required. As more trucks get added to a larger incident, more roles will be delegated to other officers and the Incident Commander (IC) role will probably be handed to a more-senior officer.

Only in the largest and most complex operations would the full ICS organization be staffed. Conversely, as an incident scales down, roles will be merged back up the tree until there is just the IC role remaining.

Span of control


To limit the number of responsibilities and resources being managed by any individual, the ICS requires that any single person's span of control should be between three and seven individuals, with five being ideal. In other words, one manager should have no more than seven people working under them at any given time. If more than 7 resources are being managed by an individual, then they are being overloaded and the command structure needs to be expanded by delegating responsibilities (e.g. by defining new sections, divisions, or task forces). If fewer than three, then the position's authority can probably be absorbed by the next highest rung in the chain of command.

Coordination


Coordination on any incident or event is possible and effective due to the implementation of the following concepts:

Incident action plans


Incident action plans ensure that everyone is working in concert toward the same goals set for that operational period by providing all incident supervisory personnel with direction for actions to be taken during the operational period identified in the plan. Incident Action Plans provide a coherent means of communicating the overall incident objectives for both operational and support activities. They include measurable strategic objectives to be achieved in a time frame called an Operational Period. They may be verbal or written except for hazardous material incidents where it must be written, and are prepared by the Planning Section.

The consolidated IAP is a very important component of the ICS that reduces freelancing and ensures a coordinated response. At the simplest level, all Incident Action Plans must have four elements:
  • What do we want to do?
  • Who is responsible for doing it?
  • How do we communicate with each other?
  • What is the procedure if someone is injured?

Comprehensive resource management


Comprehensive resource management is a key management principle that implies that all assets and personnel during an event need to be tracked and accounted for. It can also include processes for reimbursement for resources, as appropriate.
Resource management includes processes for:
  • Categorizing resources.
  • Ordering resources.
  • Dispatching resources.
  • Tracking resources.
  • Recovering resources.


Comprehensive resource management ensures that visibility is maintained over all resources so they can be moved quickly to support the preparation and response to an incident, and ensuring a graceful demobilization. It also applies to the classification of resources by type and kind, and the categorization of resources by their status.
  • Assigned resources are those that are working on a field assignment under the direction of a supervisor.
  • Available resources are those that are ready for deployment(staged), but have not been assigned to a field assignment.
  • Out-of-service resources are those that are not in either the "available" or "assigned" categories. Resources can be "out-of-service" for a variety of reasons including: resupplying after a sortie (most common), shortfall in staffing, personnel taking a rest, damaged or inoperable.


T-Cards (ICS 219
ICS 219
ICS Form 219, Resource Status Card, is commonly known as a T-Card, and is one of the key tools used by police, fire departments, and emergency management agencies to manage their responses to incidents. The cards are so-named because they are made of card stock and have a T-like shape...

, Resource Status Card) are most commonly used to track these resources. The cards are placed in T-Card racks located at an Incident Command Post for easy updating and visual tracking of resource status.

Integrated communications


The use of a common communications plan is essential for ensuring that responders can communicate with one another during an incident. Communication equipment, procedures, and systems must operate across jurisdictions (interoperably).
Developing an integrated voice and data communications system, including equipment, systems, and protocols, must occur prior to an incident.

Effective ICS communications include three elements:
  • Modes: The "hardware" systems that transfer information.
  • Planning: Planning for the use of all available communications resources.
  • Networks: The procedures and processes for transferring information internally and externally.

Incident commander

  • Single incident commander - Most incidents involve a single incident commander
    Incident Commander
    The incident commander is the person responsible for all aspects of an emergency response; including quickly developing incident objectives, managing all incident operations, application of resources as well as responsibility for all persons involved. The incident commander sets priorities and...

    . In these incidents, a single person commands the incident response and is the decision-making final authority.
  • Unified command - A Unified Command
    Unified Command (ICS)
    In the Incident Command System, a Unified Command is one way to carry out command in which responding agencies and/or jurisdictions with responsibility for the incident share incident management....

     is used on larger incidents usually when multiple agencies are involved. A Unified Command typically includes a command representative from major involved agencies and one from that group to act as the spokesman, though not designated as an Incident Commander. A Unified Command acts as a single entity.

  • Area command - During multiple-incident situations, an Area Command may be established to provide for Incident Commanders at separate locations. Generally, an Area Commander will be assigned - a single person - and the Area Command will operate as a logistical and administrative support. Area Commands usually do not include an Operations function.

Command staff

  • Safety officer - The Safety Officer monitors safety conditions and develops measures for assuring the safety of all assigned personnel.
  • Public information officer - The Public Information Officer (PIO or IO) serves as the conduit for information to and from internal and external stakeholders, including the media or other organizations seeking information directly from the incident or event. While less often discussed, the Public Information Officer is also responsible for ensuring that an incident's command staff are kept apprised as to what is being said or reported about an incident. This allows public questions to be addressed, rumors to be managed, and ensures that other such public relations issues are not overlooked.
  • Liaison Officer - A Liaison serves as the primary contact for supporting agencies assisting at an incident.


General staff

  • Operations Section Chief - The Operations Section Chief is tasked with directing all actions to meet the incident objectives.
  • Planning Section Chief - The Planning Section Chief is tasked with the collection and display of incident information, primarily consisting of the status of all resources and overall status of the incident.
  • Finance/Administration Section Chief - The Finance/Admin. Section Chief is tasked with tracking incident related costs, personnel records, requisitions, and administrating procurement contracts required by Logistics.
  • Logistics Section Chief - The Logistics Section Chief is tasked with providing all resources, services, and support required by the incident.

200-Level ICS


At the ICS 200 level, the function of Information and Intelligence is added to the standard ICS staff as an option. This role is unique in ICS as it can be arranged in multiple ways based on the judgement of the Incident Commander and needs of the incident. The three possible arrangements are:
  • Information & Intelligence Officer, a position on the command staff.
  • Information & Intelligence Section, a section headed by an Information & Intelligence Section Chief, a General Staff position.
  • Information & Intelligence Branch, headed by an Information & Intelligence Branch Director, this branch is a part of the Planning Section.

400-Level ICS


At the ICS 400 level, the focus is on large, complex incidents. Topics covered include the characteristics of incident complexity, the approaches to dividing an incident into manageable components, the establishment of an "Area Command", and MultiAgency Coordination (MAC).

Some of the options for dividing an incident into components include the following:
  • Dual Operations Section Chiefs.
  • Dual Logistics Section Chiefs.


While the dual OSC and LSC approaches are taught in the FEMA curriculum, most practitioners of ICS disapprove of this expansion technique.

Personnel


ICS is organized by levels, with the supervisor of each level holding a unique title (e.g. only a person in charge of a Section is labeled "Chief"; a "Director" is exclusively the person in charge of a Branch). Levels (supervising person's title) are:
  • Incident Commander
  • Command Staff Member (Officer)- Command Staff
  • Section (Chief)- General Staff
  • Branch (Director)
  • Division (Supervisor) - A Division is a unit arranged by geography, along jurisdictional lines if necessary, and not based on the makeup of the resources within the Division.
  • Group (Supervisor) - A Group is a unit arranged for a purpose, along agency lines if necessary, or based on the makeup of the resources within the Group.
  • Unit, Team, or Force (Leader) - Such as "Communications Unit," "Medical Strike Team," or a "Reconnaissance Task Force." A Strike Team is composed of same resources (four ambulances, for instance) while a Task Force is composed of different types of resources (one ambulance, two fire trucks, and a police car, for instance).
  • Individual Resource. This is the smallest level within ICS and usually refers to a single person or piece of equipment. It can refer to a piece of equipment and operator, and less often to multiple people working together.

Facilities


ICS uses a standard set of facility nomenclature. ICS facilities include:
Pre-Designated Incident Facilities: Response operations can form a complex structure that must be held together by response personnel working at different and often widely separate incident facilities. These facilities can include:
  • Incident Command Post (ICP): The ICP is the location where the Incident Commander operates during response operations. There is only one ICP for each incident or event, but it may change locations during the event. Every incident or event must have some form of an Incident Command Post. The ICP may be located in a vehicle, trailer, tent, or within a building. The ICP will be positioned outside of the present and potential hazard zone but close enough to the incident to maintain command. The ICP will be designated by the name of the incident, e.g., Trail Creek ICP.

  • Staging Area: Can be a location at or near an incident scene where tactical response resources are stored while they await assignment. Resources in staging area are under the control status. Staging Areas should be located close enough to the incident for a timely response, but far enough away to be out of the immediate impact zone. There may be more than one Staging Area at an incident. Staging Areas can be collocated with the ICP, Bases, Camps, Helibases, or Helispots.

  • A Base is the location from which primary logistics and administrative functions are coordinated and administered. The Base may be collocated with the Incident Command Post. There is only one Base per incident, and it is designated by the incident name. The Base is established and managed by the Logistics Section. The resources in the Base are always out-of-service.

  • Camps: Locations, often temporary, within the general incident area that are equipped and staffed to provide sleeping, food, water, sanitation, and other services to response personnel that are too far away to use base facilities. Other resources may also be kept at a camp to support incident operations if a Base is not accessible to all resources. Camps are designated by geographic location or number. Multiple Camps may be used, but not all incidents will have Camps.

  • A Helibase is the location from which helicopter-centered air operations are conducted. Helibases are generally used on a more long-term basis and include such services as fueling and maintenance. The Helibase is usually designated by the name of the incident, e.g. Trail Creek Helibase.

  • Helispots are more temporary locations at the incident, where helicopters can safely land and take off. Multiple Helispots may be used.


Each facility has unique location, space, equipment, materials, and supplies requirements that are often difficult to address, particularly at the outset of response operations. For this reason, responders should identify, pre-designate and pre-plan the layout of these facilities, whenever possible.

On large or multi-level incidents, higher-level support facilities may be activated. These could include:
  • Joint Information Center (JIC): A JIC is the facility whereby an incident, agency, or jurisdiction can support media representatives. Often co-located - even permanently designated - in a community or state EOC the JIC provides the location for interface between the media and the PIO. Most often the JIC also provides both space and technical assets (Internet, telephone, power) necessary for the media to perform their duties. A JIC very often becomes the "face" of an incident as it is where press releases are made available as well as where many broadcast media outlets interview incident staff. It is not uncommon for a permanently-established JIC to have a window overlooking an EOC and/or a dedicated background showing agency logos or other symbols for televised interviews. The National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) at FEMA has both, for example, allowing televised interviews to show action in the NRCC behind the interviewer/interviewee while an illuminated "Department of Homeland Security" sign, prominently placed on the far wall of the NRCC, is thus visible during such interviews.

  • Joint Operations Center (JOC): A JOC is usually pre-established, often operated 24/7/365, and allows multiple agencies to have a dedicated facility for assigning staff to interface and interact with their counterparts from other agencies. Although frequently called something other than a JOC, many locations and jurisdictions have such centers, often where Federal, state, and/or local agencies (often law enforcement) meet to exchange strategic information and develop and implement tactical plans. Large mass gathering events, such as a presidential inauguration, will also utilize JOC-type facilities although they are often not identified as such or their existence even publicized.

  • Multiple Agency Coordination Center (MACC): The MACC is a central command and control facility responsible for the strategic, or "big picture" of a disaster. A MACC is often used when multiple incidents are occurring in one area or are particularly complex for various reasons such as when scarce resources must be allocated across multiple requests. Personnel within the MACC use Multi-agency Coordination
    Multi-agency Coordination
    Multi-agency coordination is a generalized term which describes the functions and activities of representatives of involved agencies and/or jurisdictions who come together to make decisions regarding the prioritizing of incidents, and the sharing and use of critical resources...

     to guide their operations. The MACC coordinates activities between multiple agencies and incidents and does not normally directly control field assets, but makes strategic decisions and leaves tactical decisions to individual agencies. The common functions of all MACC's is to collect, gather and analyze data; make decisions that protect life and property, maintain continuity of the government or corporation, within the scope of applicable laws; and disseminate those decisions to all concerned agencies and individuals. While often similar to an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), the MACC is a separate entity with a defined area or mission and lifespan whereas an EOC is a permanently established facility and operation for a political jurisdiction or agency. EOCs often, but not always, follow the general ICS principles but may utilize other structures or management (such as an Emergency Support Function [ESF] or hybrid ESF/ICS model)schemas. For many jurisdictions the EOC is where elected officials will be located during an emergency and, like a MACC, supports but does not command an incident.

Equipment


ICS uses a standard set of equipment nomenclature. ICS equipment include:
  • Tanker - This is an aircraft that carries fuel (Fuel Tanker) or water (Water Tanker).
  • Tender - Like a tanker, but a ground vehicle, also carrying fuel (Fuel Tender), water (Water Tender), or even fire fighting foam (Foam Tender).

Type and kind


The "type" of resource describes the size or capability of a resource. For instance, a 50 kW (for a generator) or a 3-ton (for a truck). Types are designed to be categorized as "Type 1" through "Type 5" formally, but in live incidents more specific information may be used.

The "kind" of resource describes what the resource is. For instance, generator or a truck. The "type" of resource describes a performance capability for a kind of resource for instance,

In both type and kind, the objective must be included in the resource request. This is done to widen the potential resource response. As an example, a resource request for a small aircraft for aerial reconnaissance of a search and rescue scene may be satisfied by a National Guard OH-58 Kiowa
OH-58 Kiowa
The Bell OH-58 Kiowa is a family of single-engine, single-rotor, military helicopters used for observation, utility, and direct fire support. Bell Helicopter manufactured the OH-58 for the United States Army based on the 206A JetRanger helicopter. The OH-58 has been in continuous use by the U.S...

 helicopter (Type & Kind: Rotary-wing aircraft, Type II/III) or by a Civil Air Patrol
Civil Air Patrol
Civil Air Patrol is a Congressionally chartered, federally supported, non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force . CAP is a volunteer organization with an aviation-minded membership that includes people from all backgrounds, lifestyles, and...

 Cessna 182
Cessna 182
The Cessna 182 Skylane is an American four-seat, single-engine, light airplane, built by Cessna of Wichita, Kansas. It has the option of adding two child seats, installed in the baggage area....

 (Type & Kind: Fixed-wing aircraft, Type I). In this example, requesting only a fixed-wing or a rotary-wing, or requesting by type may prevent the other resource's availability from being known.

Command transfer


A role of responsibility can be transferred during an incident for several reasons: As the incident grows a more qualified person is required to take over as Incident Commander to handle the ever-growing needs of the incident, or in reverse where as an incident reduces in size command can be passed down to a less qualified person (but still qualified to run the now-smaller incident) to free up highly-qualified resources for other tasks or incidents. Other reasons to transfer command include jurisdictional change if the incident moves locations or area of responsibility, or normal turnover of personnel due to extended incidents. The transfer of command process always includes a transfer of command briefing, which may be oral, written, or a combination of both.

See also

  • National Response Plan
    National Response Plan
    The National Response Plan was a United States national plan to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks. It came into effect in December 2004 , and was superseded by the National Response Framework on March 22, 2008....

  • National Incident Management System
    National Incident Management System
    The National Incident Management System is emergency management doctrine used nationwide to coordinate emergency preparedness and incident management and response among the public and private sectors.NIMS is a comprehensive, national approach to incident management that is applicable at all...

  • Search and rescue
    Search and rescue
    Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Federal Emergency Management Agency
    The Federal Emergency Management Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, initially created by Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978 and implemented by two Executive Orders...

  • Incident Management Team
    Incident Management Team
    In the United States, there are predominantly five types of incident management teams . An incident such as a wildland fire is initially managed by local fire departments or fire agencies, but if the fire becomes complex additional resources are called in to address the emergency, and higher...

  • Gold Silver Bronze command structure
    Gold Silver Bronze command structure
    A gold–silver–bronze command structure is used by emergency services of the United Kingdom to establish a hierarchical framework for the command and control of major incidents and disasters...

  • Community Emergency Response Team
    Community Emergency Response Team
    In the United States a community emergency response team can refer to* one of five federal programs promoted under the umbrella organization Citizen Corps, which is funded in part by the Stafford Act;...


Training resource material



O'Neill, Brian, "A Model Assessment Tool for the Incident Command System: A Case Study of the San Antonio Fire Department" (2008). Applied Research Projects Texas State University. Paper 270. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/arp/270

Media resource material


External links