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Course Summary

Lesson 1: Course Welcome

Incident Command System: Promoting Safer Higher Education Settings

Each year, natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and severe storms affect our communities. Health-related incidents such as flu outbreaks and food-borne diseases can threaten all of us.  Unfortunately, institutes of higher education are not immune from these threats and others, such as intruders, crime, and violence.  And accidents, whether in research labs, sporting venues, or on campus shuttles, may occur. 

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, the University of Southern Mississippi incurred an estimated $57 million, and the storm cost Tulane University more than $200 million in damages.  Higher education institutes across the region were affected, not just by the structural damages, but also by setbacks in their scientific research and medical developments.

Given today’s threats, higher education institutions must be prepared to respond in partnership with local, State, tribal, and Federal agencies.  As partners, you must respond together in a seamless, coordinated fashion using the same terminology and approach.

The Incident Command System, or ICS, is a standardized, on-scene, all-hazard incident management approach.  ICS allows higher-education personnel and community responders to adopt an integrated organizational structure that matches the complexities and demands of the incidents without being hindered by jurisdictional boundaries.  With institutes of higher education blending into the larger community response system, ICS allows all involved to know their roles and work together, without jeopardizing anyone’s voice or authority.

The ICS structure is flexible.  It can grow or shrink to meet different needs.  This flexibility makes it a very cost-effective and efficient management approach for both small and large situations.  In this course, you’ll learn ICS principles that can be applied to higher-education settings.  And, more importantly, you’ll be better able to interface with other community responders.

 

Course Goals

The overall course goal is to promote campus safety by:

IS-100 for Higher Education follows the National Incident Management System (NIMS) guidelines. Descriptions and details about the other ICS courses in the series can be found at: http://training.fema.gov

 

Overall Course Objectives

At the completion of this course, you should be familiar with:

In addition, you will learn the steps you should take to be accountable for your actions during an incident.

 

 

Lesson 2: ICS Overview

Lesson Overview

This lesson introduces you to:

 

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

 

What Is an Incident?

An incident is an occurrence or event, natural or human-caused, that requires a response to protect life or property.

Examples of the types of incidents that can occur at higher education institutions include:

 

What Is ICS?

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized, on-scene, all-hazard incident management approach. ICS:

 

Voices of Experience: ICS

David Burns
Emergency Preparedness Manager
University of California Los Angeles

ICS is a formal process for managing emergencies, tried, true, and tested for over three decades.  I look at ICS as a toolbox.  ICS has a set of tools and resources that almost anyone can draw from and ICS is unique and flexible enough that if I only draw off of the resources and tools that I need and I leave everything else in the box, but it’s nice to know that I can draw as little or as much as I need in any given circumstance.

Toni J. Rinaldi
Director of Public Safety
Naugatuck Valley Community College

ICS stands for the Incident Command System, and it’s a standardized approach to incident management that can be used in any situation under circumstances of a large-magnitude type of incident to a very, very small-scale contained incident. 

Brendan McCluskey
Executive Director, Emergency Management
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

ICS is a tool you can use to manage the incident whether it’s small or large, simple or complex, or whatever type of nature it might be, if it’s a terrorist incident or a natural disaster or something else, ICS really fits all of those different things because it’s so flexible.

George Nuñez
Supervising Emergency Management Associate
George Washington University

ICS is a system to allow responders to be able to organize and respond to an incident.  It is specifically useful during on-scene response.  It is a format, a system of tools that allow police, fire, and other personnel to respond to that incident in a systematic way to facilitate the response but also meet the needs of those impacted.

 

ICS Benefits

Using management best practices, ICS helps to ensure:

The bottom line:  ICS saves lives!

 

ICS Beginnings and Benefits

Historically, weaknesses in incident management were often due to:

The Incident Command System was developed to address these management weaknesses.

 

ICS Built on Best Practices

The Incident Command System is the result of decades of lessons learned in the organization and management of emergency incidents.

ICS has been tested in more than 30 years of emergency and nonemergency applications, by all levels of government and in the private sector.

 

Voices of Experience: ICS Successes

Toni J. Rinaldi
Director of Public Safety
Naugatuck Valley Community College

We had a very suspicious package that was possibly an explosive device that was placed near a trash can on the second floor of a two-story parking garage facility that sits under a fourth floor academic building.  It was reported to public safety and immediately all the players went into action.  The initial responder who became the original incident commander took control of the situation and started delegating functional roles that were needed. . . Fortunately, the whole incident was brought to a successful conclusion after about an hour and a half or two hours.

Paul H. Dean
Deputy Chief of Police/Director of Emergency Management
University of New Hampshire

We hosted the Republican debates at the University of New Hampshire.  That brought in a variety of the academic world, the support services world, as well as State, county, and Federal assets into the system.  ICS allowed all of us to work together as a team and for a successful event.

Richard Lee
Assistant Director of Public Safety
University of Massachusetts Boston

We had what was called a straight-lined thunderstorm come through with a microburst in it which tore the roof off of one of our buildings, and we used our incident command system.  We had appointed an incident commander who happened to be our facilities director who then started giving orders about how to make sure power was shut down, what needed to be covered up, and all the other incidents that needed to be in there such as monitoring alarms and everything else, and it eventually settled back down from then and we worked it into then where our public safety director took over and was charged with working the perimeters and everything else until the incident was resolved.

Dorothy Miller
Emergency Management Coordinator
University of Texas at Dallas

During a hazmat incident at one of our buildings that houses chemistry labs, when I got to the scene there was already an incident command post set up, the fire chief was in charge, and there of course was the hazmat teams called out, environmental heath and safety, the police chief.  I talked to the police and fire chiefs because I know who they are.  I had ahead of time made that relationship establishment.  That’s incredibly important that when you train, you can’t just have your classes in a vacuum.  You have to include all the responders in your community also and possibly other campuses because everyone has a different perspective but also you may need them in the future so you need to know who they are ahead of time.

 

Without ICS: Confusion and Poor Decisions

More incident responses fail due to poor management rather than from insufficient resources. Without ICS, incidents typically:

 

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5)

In response to the attacks on September 11, President George W. Bush issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5) in February 2003.

HSPD-5 called for a National Incident Management System (NIMS) and identified steps for improved coordination of Federal, State, local, and private sector response to incidents and described the way these agencies will prepare for such a response.

 

National Incident Management System (NIMS)

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is:

NIMS requires the use of the Incident Command System.

 

ICS Mandates

NIMS requires the use of ICS for all domestic responses. NIMS also requires that all levels of government, including Territories and Tribal Organizations, adopt ICS as a condition of receiving Federal preparedness funding.

This requirement also applies to all colleges and universities receiving emergency preparedness funding including the U.S. Department of Education Emergency Management for Higher Education (EMHE) grants.

 

When Is ICS Used?

ICS can be used to manage any of the following types of incidents:

 

 

Lesson 3: ICS Features & Principles

Lesson Overview

The ICS Features and Principles lesson introduces you to:

 

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

 

Making ICS Work

The features and principles used to manage an incident differ from day-to-day management approaches. Effective incident management relies on a tight command and control structure. Although information is exchanged freely through the ICS structure, strict adherence must be paid to top-down direction.

To make ICS work, each of us must commit to following this command and control approach.

 

ICS Features

ICS is based on proven management principles, which contribute to the strength and efficiency of the overall system.

ICS principles are implemented through a wide range of management features including the use of common terminology and plain language, and a modular organizational structure.

 

Common Terminology and Clear Text

The ability to communicate within the ICS is absolutely critical. During an incident:

 

Why Plain English?

The following meanings of a common acronym illustrate the importance of using clear text.

EMT = Emergency Medical Treatment
EMT = Emergency Medical Technician
EMT = Emergency Management Team
EMT = Eastern Mediterranean Time (GMT+0200)
EMT = Effective Methods Team
EMT = Effects Management Tool
EMT = El Monte, CA (airport code)
EMT = Electron Microscope Tomography
EMT = Email Money Transfer

 

Command Definition

The National Incident Management System defines command as the act of directing, ordering, or controlling by virtue of explicit statutory, regulatory, or delegated authority.

At an incident scene, the Incident Commander has the authority to assume command.

The Incident Commander should have the level of training, experience, and expertise to serve in this capacity.  It is quite possible that the Incident Commander may not be the highest ranking official on scene.

 

Chain of Command

Chain of command is an orderly line of authority within the ranks of the incident management organization. Chain of command:

Chain of command does not prevent personnel from directly communicating with each other to ask for or share information.

 

Unity of Command

Under unity of command, personnel:

 

Transfer of Command

The process of moving the responsibility for incident command from one Incident Commander to another is called transfer of command. Transfer of command may take place when:

The transfer of command process always includes a transfer of command briefing, which may be oral, written, or a combination of both.

 

Incident Management Roles

The Incident Commander is the primary person in charge at the incident.  In addition to managing the incident scene, he or she must keep officials in the Executive Policy Group informed and up to date on all important matters pertaining to the incident.

The ICS hierarchy of command must be maintained and not even executives and senior officials can bypass the system. 

The executives/senior officials (Provost, Chancellor, President, etc.) are accountable for the incident.  Along with this responsibility, by virtue of their position, these individuals have the authority to make policy decisions, commit resources, obligate funds, and obtain the resources necessary to protect the students and facilities.  They delegate authority to the Incident Commander.

Having the responsibility does not mean that the Executive Policy Group assumes a command role over the on-scene incident operation.  Rather, the Executive Policy Group:

 

Emergency Operations Center

The Executive Policy Group may convene at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which is activated to support the on-scene response during an escalating incident by relieving the burden of external coordination and securing additional resources.

An EOC is:

An EOC consists of:

An EOC is used:

An EOC does not:

 

Voices of Experience: Incident Management Roles

Paul H. Dean
Deputy Chief of Police/Director of Emergency Management
University of New Hampshire

When it comes to the scene there, the Incident Commander is in charge of his or her scene on the ground; however, we all have a reporting line to report to.  The CEO, the policy group, the EOC all require information to do their job and any Incident Commander knows that they’re there to support his or her operation on the ground.  Providing them accurate, timely information allows them to get you the things that you need to do to be successful on the ground.  A properly, well-trained organization of people will know what their roles are.  The president will know that he is, in the end, ultimately responsible for the safety on his college campus but he also knows that it’s his job to trust his Incident Commander on the street that’s making those decisions and those relationships need to be done well before an incident takes place and training such as this is the train that needed to be in place so that confidence is built and that people have those good conversations well in advance.

Toni J Rinaldi
Director of Public Safety
Naugatuck Valley Community College

The Incident Commander is the person who takes control and command of the incident as the incident unfolds and that is the person that’s in charge of the incident at the scene.  On a college campus we cannot neglect the fact that our college president or provost or chancellor is obviously in charge of the campus and will never be asked to give that up; however, he or she will be in charge of the impact of the incident on the campus versus the incident itself.    

Frank Zebedis
Chief of Police
Winthrop University

Well, the Executive Policy Group, they’re responsible for managing what goes on at the institution.  They’re looking at the outcome:  How they’re going to get classes back in session?  How are they going to get the word out?  The Operations Section in a command post or in ICS—they’re responsible for resolving the scene, the incident as it unfolds.  They’re not worried about how the president or how the executive officers are going to, you know, notify parents, how they’re going to bring classes back in sessions or if they’re going to cancel classes.  Their responsibility is making sure that the scene is contained, the scene is resolved, and minimize as much damages as possible and to mitigate as much life loss or property loss as possible. 

 

Management by Objectives

Incident objectives are used to ensure that everyone within the ICS organization has a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished.

Incident objectives are established based on the following priorities:

  1. Life Safety
  2. Incident Stabilization
  3. Property Preservation

 

ICS Organization

The ICS organization is unique but easy to understand.  There is no correlation between the ICS organization and the administrative structure of any single agency or jurisdiction.  This is deliberate, because confusion over different position titles and organizational structures has been a significant stumbling block to effective incident management in the past.

For example, someone who serves as a director every day may not hold that title when deployed under an ICS structure.

 

Modular Organization

The ICS organizational structure:

 

Reliance on an Incident Action Plan

Every incident must have an Incident Action Plan (IAP) that:

 

Elements of an Incident Action Plan

Every IAP must have four elements:

The important part is having a plan and communicating it. The illustration shows the first plan and organizational structure developed by the Incident Commander at the Pentagon following the 9/11 attacks.

 

Manageable Span of Control

Another basic ICS feature concerns the supervisory structure of the organization. Maintaining adequate span of control throughout the ICS organization is very important.

Span of control pertains to the number of individuals or resources that one supervisor can manage effectively during an incident.

Maintaining an effective span of control is important at incidents where safety and accountability are a top priority.

 

Span of Control

The type of incident, nature of the task, hazards and safety factors, and distances between personnel and resources all influence span of control considerations.

Effective span of control on incidents may vary from three to seven, and a ratio of one supervisor to five subordinates is recommended.

 

Accounting for Incident Resources

In ICS, resources refer to personnel, supplies, and equipment. During an incident, it is critical to know:

Effective resource management ensures that response personnel are safe and incident objectives are achieved.

 

Resource Management

Resource management includes processes for:

It also includes processes for reimbursement for resources, as appropriate.

 

Predesignated Incident Locations and Facilities

Incident activities may be accomplished from a variety of operational locations and support facilities.

The Incident Commander identifies and establishes needed facilities depending on incident needs. Standardized names are used to identify types of facilities.

In order to integrate with community responders, it is important to be familiar with the standard ICS facilities.

 

Incident Facilities Tour

The standard ICS incident facilities include:

 

Incident Facility Map Symbols

In ICS, it is important to be able to identify the map symbols associated with the basic incident facilities. The map symbols used to represent each of the six basic ICS facilities are:

On a map, the ICP location appears as a blue and white square.

The standard symbol for identifying Staging Areas is an uppercase S in a circle.

The standard symbol for identifying a Base is an uppercase B in a circle.

The standard symbol for identifying a Camp is a C in a circle, a Helibase is an H in a circle, and a Helispot is a black circle with an H, a dash, and a numeric identifier.

 

Integrated Communications

A common communications plan is essential for ensuring that responders can communicate with one another during an incident.

The response to the Columbine school shooting incident was hampered by response agencies operating on radios set to different frequencies.

Prior to an incident, higher education institutions must work with local responders to ensure that communication equipment, procedures, and systems can operate together during a response (interoperable).

 

Information and Intelligence Management

The analysis and sharing of information and intelligence is an important component of ICS. Incident management must establish a process for gathering, sharing, and managing incident-related information and intelligence.

Intelligence includes other operational information that may come from a variety of different sources, such as:

 

Accountability

Effective accountability during incident operations is essential.  Individuals must abide by their institutional policies and guidelines and any applicable local, State, or Federal rules and regulations. 

The following principles must be adhered to:

 

Dispatch/Deployment

As campus personnel, you should be mobilized or activated to join the incident response.  Unless you must take an immediate life-saving action, you should not start responding without being deployed.  The deployment process improves safety and cuts down on chaos.

After being deployed, your first task is to check in and receive an assignment.

After check-in, you will locate your incident supervisor and obtain your initial briefing.  The briefings you receive and give should include:

 

 

Lesson 4: Incident Commander & General Staff Functions

Lesson Overview

This lesson introduces you to the:

 

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

 

Performance of Management Functions

Every incident requires that certain management functions be performed. The problem must be identified and assessed, a plan to deal with it developed and implemented, and the necessary resources procured and paid for.

Regardless of the size of the incident, these management functions still will apply.

 

Graphic showing the 5 major ICS management functions: Incident Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance & AdministrationFive Major Management Functions

There are five major management functions that are the foundation upon which the ICS organization develops.

These functions apply whether you are handling a routine emergency, organizing for a major nonemergency event, or managing a response to a major disaster.

 

 

 

Management Function Descriptions

Below is a brief description of the major ICS functions:

Incident Command

Sets the incident objectives, strategies, and priorities and has overall responsibility for the incident.

Operations

Conducts operations to reach the incident objectives. Establishes the tactics and directs all operational resources.

Planning

Supports the incident action planning process by tracking resources, collecting/analyzing information, and maintaining documentation.

Logistics

Provides resources and needed services to support the achievement of the incident objectives.

Finance & Administration

Monitors costs related to the incident. Provides accounting, procurement, time recording, and cost analyses.

 

Incident Commander

The Incident Commander has overall responsibility for managing the incident by establishing objectives, planning strategies, and implementing tactics. The Incident Commander is the only position that is always staffed in ICS applications. On small incidents and events, one person, the Incident Commander, may accomplish all management functions.

The Incident Commander is responsible for all ICS management functions until he or she delegates the function.

 

Voices of Experience

Richard W. Lee
Assistant Director of Public Safety
University of Massachusetts Boston

Who’s in charge?  Well, that’s a complex question.  It’ll depend on the incident.  It’ll depend on the location.  It’ll depend on the jurisdiction.  There’s a lot of things that come into it but basically the best qualified person who’s at the scene when the incident becomes, starts will be in charge and then it will move up the line as more qualified or better qualified or other people show up on the scene.  It’s very flexible in that respect and ICS and who’s in charge doesn’t, it’s more of a function than it is a person.  It’s going to be the best person to do the job at the time as opposed to looking around for an arbitrary figure that has a title.

Frank Zebedis
Chief of Police
Winthrop University

Who’s in charge initially, on the onset of an incident, it could be the first, first responder which could be a professor; it could be a faculty member, a staff member, a coach, a citizen, or the first emergency responder who shows up on the scene is in charge, but as the event grows and more qualified people arrive to the scene, whoever is in charge then gets passed off to the more qualified person till eventually you have yourself an Incident Commander who is in position to manage the scene but until that time it takes a while for these responders to get there.  It doesn’t happen in a matter of seconds or minutes, so that initial person is actually in charge until the scene grows.

Brendan McCluskey
Executive Director, Emergency Management
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

The Incident Commander is in charge and that’s a principle of ICS that makes it clear who has the authority or who has the responsibility for overseeing what goes on at an incident scene, and regardless of where you come from, whether you are from the outside or the inside of the institution, whether you are police or fire or public works or public health or student services, the Incident Commander is the one who is going to be running the show.  So it doesn’t really matter where you’re from, what your title is, what level of responsibility you have on a day-to-day basis, once you become part of that incident response, then you look up to that Incident Commander to be the one who is in charge.

 

Delegating Incident Management Functions

As you learned in the previous lesson, the ICS organization is modular and has the capability to expand or contract to meet the needs of the incident. On a larger incident, the Incident Commander may create Sections and delegate the Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration functions.

Organization chart showing Incident Command with four sections reporting to it:  Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration

Remember . . . The Incident Commander only creates those sections that are needed. If a Section is not staffed, the Incident Commander will personally manage those functions.

 

Incident Commander's Overall Role

The Incident Commander must have the authority to manage the incident and be briefed fully. In some instances, a written delegation of authority should be established.

Personnel assigned by the Incident Commander have the authority of their assigned positions, regardless of the rank they normally hold within the administration.

 

Incident Commander Responsibilities

In addition to having overall responsibility for managing the entire incident, the Incident Commander is specifically responsible for:

The Incident Commander may appoint one or more Deputies. Deputy Incident Commanders must be as qualified as the Incident Commander.

 

Selecting and Changing Incident Commanders

As incidents become more or less complex, command may change to meet the needs of the incident.

Rank, grade, and seniority are not the factors used to select the Incident Commander. The Incident Commander is always a highly qualified individual trained to lead the incident response.

A formal transfer of command at an incident always requires a transfer of command briefing for the incoming Incident Commander.

 

Deputy Incident Commander

A Deputy Incident Commander may be designated to:

Note that if a Deputy is assigned, he or she must be fully qualified to assume the Incident Commander’s position.

 

Expanding the Organization

As incidents grow, the Incident Commander may delegate authority for performance of certain activities to the Command Staff and the General Staff. The Incident Commander will add positions only as needed.

Organization chart showing Incident Command, Command Staff (Information, Safety, and Liaison Officers), and General Staff (Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration Sections.) The Command staff provide information, safety, and liason services for the entire organization.  The General Staff are assigned functional authority for Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration.

 

Command Staff

Depending upon the size and type of incident or event, the Incident Commander may designate personnel to provide information, safety, and liaison services. In ICS, the following personnel comprise the Command Staff:

The Command Staff reports directly to the Incident Commander.

 

Meet the Command Staff

Public Information Officer

I report directly to the Incident Commander.  I am the primary contact for anyone who wants information about the incident and our response to it.  I provide information to the media, public, and the campus community.  Campus incidents attract a lot of media attention.  Without me, media requests would overwhelm the Incident Commander.  I also coordinate communications to our internal audiences including both incident staff and campus personnel.  It's very important for me to coordinate with other public information staff in the policy group to ensure that we do not issue confusing or conflicting information.

Accurate information is essential. In the end, the Incident Commander will approve all information released at the scene.  Other information may be released by the Executive Policy Group.  During a complex incident, I may need an assistant to help me.

Safety Officer

My job is to ensure the safety of responders.  I advise the Incident Commander on issues regarding incident safety, but I would like to emphasize that safety is everyone's responsibility.  I work very closely with responders to make sure they are as safe as possible under the circumstances.  I conduct risk analyses and implement safety measures.  I have the authority to stop any unsafe activity that I observe.  During a complex incident, I may need quite a few assistants to be my eyes and ears.

Liaison Officer

I'm the go-between.  I assist the Incident Commander by serving as the point of contact for other response organizations providing resources at the scene.  I facilitate coordination with the Executive Policy Group, adjacent jurisdictions, and nongovernmental organizations.  I respond to requests from incident personnel for contacts among the assisting and cooperating agencies.  I also monitor incident operations in order to identify any current or potential problems between the institution and response agencies.

 

Training and Qualifying Command Staff

Review the descriptions below and identify the campus personnel who may be able to be assigned to each ICS position.

Incident Commander
  • Authority to commit campus resources
  • Past experience as incident responder
  • Ability to:
    • Take command
    • Balance response initiatives with safety concerns
    • Motivate responders
    • Communicate clear directions
    • Size up the situation and make rapid decisions
    • Assess the effectiveness of tactics/strategies
    • Be flexible and modify plans as necessary
Public Information Officer
  • Media relations training/experience
  • Authority as designated spokesperson
  • Ability to maintain grace under fire
Safety Officer
  • Worker safety and HazMat training/experience
  • Ability to assess risk and develop safety measures
Liaison Officer
  • Ability to represent the concerns and needs of all parties involved in a response

 

 

Lesson 5: General Staff Functions

Lesson Overview

In the previous lesson, you learned that the Command Staff is responsible for overall management of the incident. This lesson introduces you to the General Staff, including:

You will learn how the General Staff expands and contracts to meet incident needs.

 

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

 

General Staff

To maintain span of control, the Incident Commander may establish the following four Sections: Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration.

Organization chart showing Incident Command over four General Staff Sections: Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration

The General Staff report directly to the Incident Commander.

 

General Staff Overview

The General Staff overall responsibilities are summarized below:

Organization chart showing Incident Command over the General Staff Sections: Operations, which then activates the Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration Sections as needed

In an expanding incident, the Incident Commander first establishes the Operations Section. The remaining Sections are established as needed to support the operation.

 

ICS Position Titles

Additional levels of supervision are added as the ICS organization expands. Let’s review the ICS supervisory titles:

Organizational Level Title Support Position

Incident Command

Incident Commander

Deputy

Command Staff

Officer

Assistant

General Staff (Section)

Chief

Deputy

Branch

Director

Deputy

Division/Group

Supervisor

N/A

Unit

Leader

Manager

Strike Team/Task Force

Leader

Single Resource Boss

 

ICS Section Chiefs and Deputies

As mentioned previously, the person in charge of each Section is designated as a Chief. Section Chiefs have the ability to expand their Sections to meet the needs of the situation.

Each of the Section Chiefs may have a Deputy, or more than one, if necessary. The Deputy:

 

Increasing Interagency Coordination

Organization chart showing (from the bottom) the Deputy Operations Section Chief, who reports to the Operations Section Chief, who reports to the Incident Commander When an incident involves multiple agencies, assigning Deputies from other organizations can increase interagency coordination.

For example, in the case of a bomb threat, Incident Command may be transferred to a first response organization while a campus official may serve as a Deputy. When first responders and campus personnel are integrated into the same ICS organizational structure, valuable information can be shared and crisis decisionmaking improved.

 

 

Operations Section Chief

Typically, the Operations Section Chief is the person with the greatest technical and tactical expertise in dealing with the problem at hand. The Operations Section Chief:

 

Operations Section: Single Resources

Single Resources are individuals, a piece of equipment and its personnel complement, or a crew or team of individuals with an identified supervisor. On a smaller incident, the Operations Section may be comprised of an Operations Section Chief and single resources.

Organization chart showing Operations Section Chief with three single resources as direct reports: Industrial Hygienist, Facility Engineer, and IT Specialist

 

Operations Section: Teams

Single resources may be organized into teams. Using standard ICS terminology, the two types of team configurations are:

 

Sample Strike Teams and Task Forces

The Operations Section organization chart shows possible team assignments in a campus incident. Each team would have a Team Leader reporting to the Operations Section Chief.

Organization chart showing Operations Section Chief with six teams as direct reports: Search & Rescue Strike Team, Medical Aid Strike Team, Perimeter Security Strike Team, Damage Assessment Task Force, Shelter and Feeding Task Force, and Restoration/Recovery Task Force

Note that these are examples of possible teams. Teams should be established based on the type of incident and unique requirements of the campus.

 

Too Many Teams!

To maintain span of control, each team should be comprised of a Team Leader and no more than five to seven team members. As teams are added, what happens to the Operations Section Chief’s span of control?

Organization chart showing Operations Section Chief with 10 teams as direct reports: Shelter and Feeding Task Force, Restoration/Recovery Task Force, Search & Rescue Strike Team 1, Search & Rescue Strike Team 2, Medical Aid Strike Team 1, Medical Aid Strike Team 2, Perimeter Security Strike Team 1, Perimeter Security Strike Team 2, Damage Assessment Task Force 1, and Damage Assessment Task Force 2

 

The Solution: Add Groups or Divisions

On a large, complex incident the Operations Section may become very large. Using the ICS principle of modular organization, the Operations Section may add the following elements to manage span of control:

 

Maintaining Span of Control: Groups

The organizational chart below illustrates how Groups can be used to maintain span of control within the Operations Section.

Organization chart showing Operations Section Chief with three supervisors as direct reports, and several teams reporting to each supervisor, as follows:  Response & Recovery Group Supervisor (supervising Search & Rescue Strike Team 1, Search & Rescue Strike Team 2, Damage Assessment Task Force, and Restoration/Recovery Task Force), Perimeter Security Group Supervisor (supervising Perimeter Security Strike Team 1 and Perimeter Security Strike Team 2), and Student Services Group Supervisor (supervising Shelter and Feeding Task Force, Medical Aid Strike Team 1, and Medical Aid Strike Team 2)

 

Maintaining Span of Control: Groups and Divisions (Geographic Areas)

The organizational chart below illustrates how Groups and Divisions can be used together to maintain span of control within the Operations Section. The use of Divisions would be effective if the incident covered a large or isolated area of the campus. Note this complex organization would include both campus and community responders.

Organization chart showing Operations Section Chief with three supervisors as direct reports, and several teams reporting to each supervisor, as follows:  East Division Supervisor (supervising Search & Rescue Strike Team 1, Perimeter Security Strike Team 1, Medical Aid Strike Team 1, and Shelter and Feeding Task Force 1), West Division Supervisor (supervising Search & Rescue Strike Team 2, Perimeter Security Strike Team 2, Medical Aid Strike Team 2, and Shelter and Feeding Task Force 2), and Recovery Group Supervisor (supervising Damage Assessment Task Force and Restoration/Recovery Task Force)

 

Organization chart showing Operations Section Chief with two Directors as direct reports, and several groups reporting to each Director, as follows:  Emergency Response Branch Director (supervising Search & Rescue Group Supervisor, Medical Aid Group Supervisor, and Perimeter Security Group Supervisor) and Student Services Branch Director (supervising Evacuation Group Supervisor, Shelter & Feeding Group Supervisor, and Crisis Intervention Group Supervisor)Operations Section: Establishing Branches

The Operations Section Chief may add Branches to supervise Groups and Divisions and further reduce his or her span of control.

The person in charge of each Branch is designated as a Director.

Review the chart.

What are the advantages of reducing the Operations Section Chief’s span of control?

 

 

 

Managing the Operations Section

Operations Section: Expanding and Contracting

The Operations Section Chief at an incident may work initially with only a few single resources or staff members.

The Operations Section usually develops from the bottom up. The organization will expand to include needed levels of supervision as more and more resources are deployed.

Single resources may be grouped into Strike Teams or Task Forces who report to a Leader.

Remember, Strike Teams are comprised of similar resources while Task Forces combine different types of resources.

Groups may be added to supervise the growing number of resources, teams, or task forces. Or, geographic Divisions along with Groups may be used.

The Operations Section Chief may add Branches to supervise the Groups and Divisions and further reduce his or her span of control.

At some point, the Operations Section and the rest of the ICS organization will contract. The decision to contract will be based on the achievement of incident objectives.

Demobilization planning begins upon activation of the first personnel and continues until the ICS organization ceases operation.

 

Planning Section

The Incident Commander will determine if there is a need for a Planning Section and if so, will designate a Planning Section Chief. If no Planning Section is established, the Incident Commander will perform all planning functions. It is up to the Planning Section Chief to activate any needed additional staffing.

 

Planning Section: Major Activities

The major activities of the Planning Section may include:

 

Planning Section: Units

The Planning Section can be further staffed with four Units. In addition, Technical Specialists who provide special expertise useful in incident management and response may also be assigned to work in the Planning Section. Depending on the needs, Technical Specialists may also be assigned to other Sections in the organization.

Organization chart showing Planning Section over four Units (Resources, Situation, Documentation, and Demobilization Units) and Technical Specialists

 

Logistics Section

The Incident Commander will determine if there is a need for a Logistics Section at the incident, and if so, will designate an individual to fill the position of the Logistics Section Chief.

The Logistic Section Chief helps make sure that there are adequate resources (personnel, supplies, and equipment) for meeting the incident objectives.

 

Logistics Section: Major Activities

The Logistics Section is responsible for all of the services and support needs, including:

 

Organization chart showing Logistics Section over Service and Support Branches, with three Units beneath Service Branch (Communication, Medical, and Food Units) and three Units beneath Support Branch (Supply, Facilities, and Ground Support Units)Logistics Section: Branches and Units

The Logistics Section can be further staffed by two Branches and six Units.

The titles of the Units are descriptive of their responsibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

Service Branch

Organization chart showing Service Branch Director over Communication Unit Leader, Medical Unit Leader, and Food Unit LeaderThe Logistics Service Branch can be staffed to include a:

 

Support Branch

Organization chart showing Support Branch Director over Supply Unit Leader, Facilities Unit Leader, and Ground Support Unit LeaderThe Logistics Support Branch can be staffed to include a:

 

Finance/Administration Section

The Incident Commander will determine if there is a need for a Finance/Administration Section at the incident, and if so, will designate an individual to fill the position of the Finance/Administration Section Chief.

 

Finance/Administration Section: Major Activities

The Finance/Administration Section is set up for any incident that requires incident-specific financial management. The Finance/Administration Section is responsible for:

 

Finance/Administration Section: Units

The Finance/Administration Section may staff four Units.

Organization chart showing Finance/Administration Section over four Units:  Procurement, Time, Cost, and Compensation/Claims Units

 

Training and Qualifying General Staff

Review the descriptions below and identify the campus personnel who may be able to be assigned to each ICS position.

Operations Section Chief

  • Past experience as incident responder
  • Completion of ICS training
  • Ability to:
    • Size up the situation and make rapid decisions
    • Communicate clear directions
    • Balance response initiatives with safety concerns
    • Lead and motivate responders
    • Assess the effectiveness of tactics/strategies
    • Be flexible and modify plans as necessary

Planning Section Chief

  • Completion of ICS training
  • Ability to:
    • Organize and analyze information
    • Write clear, accurate documents
    • Interpret diagrams and maps
    • Develop and present briefings
    • Use computer-based applications including databases and spreadsheets
    • Direct others in a crisis

Logistics Section Chief

  • Completion of ICS training
  • Knowledge of campus logistics (food services, sheltering, transportation, emergency caches, etc.)
  • Ability to:
    • Organize and prioritize resource requests
    • Anticipate and plan for resource needs
    • Maintain records and documentation
    • Track resource requests
    • Solve resource problems creatively
    • Communicate effectively orally and in writing
    • Direct others in a crisis

Finance/Administration Section Chief

  • Completion of ICS training
  • Knowledge of workers’ compensation, insurance claims, and contracting requirements
  • Ability to:
    • Keep accurate accounting records
    • Purchase/contract for needed resources
    • Process insurance and workers’ compensation claims
    • Communicate effectively orally and in writing
    • Direct others in a crisis

 

 

Lesson 6: Unified Command

Lesson Overview

The previous lessons covered the Incident Command Systems (ICS) fundamentals. This lesson introduces you to a more advanced concept, called Unified Command.

Unified Command:

 

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

 

Unified Command

The Unified Command organization consists of the Incident Commanders from the various jurisdictions or agencies operating together to form a single command structure.

 

Unified Command Benefits

In a Unified Command, institutions and responding agencies blend into an integrated, unified team. A unified approach results in:

 

Incident Commanders Work Together

When implemented properly, Unified Command enables agencies with different legal, geographic, and functional responsibilities to coordinate, plan, and interact effectively.

The Incident Commanders within the Unified Command make joint decisions and speak as one voice. Any differences are worked out within the Unified Command.

Unity of command is maintained within the Operations Section. Each responder reports to a single supervisor within his or her area of expertise. Within a Unified Command the police officer would not tell the firefighters how to do their job nor would the police tell campus personnel how to manage student notification.

 

Unified Command and NIMS

NIMS encourages the use of Unified Command.

“As a team effort, Unified Command overcomes much of the inefficiency and duplication of effort that can occur when agencies from different functional and geographic jurisdictions, or agencies at different levels of government, operate without a common system or organizational framework.”

 

Single Integrated Incident Organization: Command Staff

Unified Command results in a single integrated incident organization. Below is a sample Command Staff organizational chart for the campus protest incident. Notice that personnel from the different agencies often are assigned as Assistant Officers.

Organization chart depicting the Unified Command structure, with a the Executive Policy Group at the top, connected by a dotted line to the Unified Command box, which contains the Fire and Rescue Incident Commander, the Law Enforcement Incident Commander, and the Higher Ed Institution Incident Commander. Below the Unified Command are:  the Safety Officer (from Fire and Rescue), the Liaison Officer (from Fire and Rescue), and Agency Representatives (Law Enforcement and Campus Personnel).  Also below the Unified Command are the Public Information Officer (Institution spokesperson) and two assistant PIOs (one from law enforcement and one from the fire service).  The PIO and assistant PIOs speak with one voice.  Connected via dotted line to the PIOs is a Joint Information Center.

 

Single Integrated Incident Organization: Operations Section

In a Unified Command there is only one Operations Section Chief. The Operations Section Chief should be the most qualified and experienced person available. Below is a sample Operations Section organization chart for the campus protest incident.

Organization chart depicting the Operations Section.  Underneath the Operations Section Chief are three branches:  Emergency Services, Law Enforcement, and Campus Services.  Beneath the Emergency Services Branch Director are the EMS Group Supervisor, the Fire Suppression Group Supervisor, and the Public Works Group Supervisor.  Beneath the Law Enforcement Branch Director are the Perimeter Control Group Supervisor and the Accident Investigation Group Supervisor.  Beneath the Campus Services Branch Director are the Housing Group Supervisor and the Crisis Intervention Group Supervisor.

 

Unified Command Features

Collocated (Shared) Facilities

In a Unified Command incident facilities are collocated or shared.

Bringing the responsible officials, Command Staffs, and planning elements together in a single Incident Command Post can promote coordination.

Single Planning Process and Incident Action Plan

Unified Command uses a single planning process and produces one Incident Action Plan (IAP). The planning process for Unified Command is similar to the process used on single jurisdiction incidents.

Integrated General Staff

Integrating multijurisdictional and/or multiagency personnel into various other functional areas may be beneficial. For example:

Incident Commanders within the Unified Command must concur on the selection of the General Staff Section Chiefs. The Operations Section Chief must have full authority to implement the tactics within the Incident Action Plan.

Coordinated Process for Resource Ordering

The Incident Commanders within the Unified Command work together to establish resource ordering procedures that allow for:

 

Unified Command and Preparedness

For Unified Command to be used successfully, it is important that higher education institutions and agencies prepare by:

 

Voices of Experience

James K. Hamrick
Assistant Chief of Police
University of Maryland

I think that communication is a vitally important element of the Incident Command System because if you look at lessons learned from just about every major critical incident that has been debriefed around the country, you are going to find that communication is near the top of the list, some element of breakdown in communication in terms of that incident and so communication becomes an important element of the Incident Command System in being able to talk across different agencies that may be represented in the response of that and being able to manage the flow of information both down and up the incident command structure and then the flow of information to any coordinating agency such as an emergency operations center as well as a policy group, Presidents, Vice Presidents, Provost of the institution who have an interest in continuity of operations for the institution.

Brendan McCluskey
Executive Director, Emergency Management
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

Unified command is somewhat of a difficult concept for people to understand because while no individual Incident Commander is giving up control over their jurisdiction or their assets.  They all need to come together to work toward common goals and objectives.  While we have this group of people together making decisions, essentially the unified command is acting as a conglomeration and as a single body to make decisions.  Essentially they become the Incident Commander and I think that’s a very difficult concept for people to understand because if you’re a police officer and you traditionally command police, you wouldn’t want a firefighter saying what to, what should be done, but in unified command model everybody gets together and collectively makes those important decisions.

Frank Zebedis
Chief of Police
Winthrop University

Basically you are dealing with different agencies, different disciplines coming together as the scene unfolds.  You’re going to have an Incident Commander who is going to be in charge but as other agencies get involved and other special entities are required or needed then that Incident Commander goes into what is called unified command, and at that point the different agencies and entities come together and they work in a very understanding environment to solve the situation or resolve the scene and nobody gives up their authority because if I’m fire, I’m the expert in the fire field.  If I’m law enforcement, I’m the expert in the law enforcement field.  I don’t tell firefighters how to do their job; they don’t tell me how to do my job as a police officer; so we look to each other for assistance and the professional in that field do what they need to do.

 

 

Lesson 7: Putting It All Together

Lesson Overview

You should now be familiar with the core system features of ICS and the ICS organizational roles and responsibilities.

Putting it all together means that:

 

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

 

Assuming Accountability

ICS requires that you be accountable for:

 

Dispatch/Deployment and Check-In

When an incident occurs, you must be mobilized or assigned to become part of the incident response. In other words, until you are mobilized to the incident organization, you remain in your everyday role.

After being mobilized, your first task is to check in and receive an assignment.

 

Initial Briefing

After check-in, you will locate your incident supervisor and obtain your initial briefing. The briefings you receive and give should include:

 

Recordkeeping

All incidents require some form of recordkeeping. Requirements vary depending upon the agencies involved and the nature of the incident. Below are general guidelines for incident recordkeeping:

 

Lengthy Assignments

Many incidents last only a short time. However, if you were asked to deploy to support a lengthy assignment (e.g., Hurricane Katrina response) away from home you would need to prepare yourself and your family.

 

Demobilization

Resource demobilization occurs at the end of your assignment or when the incident is resolved. Before leaving an incident assignment, you should:

 

Voices of Experience: Preparedness

David Burns
Emergency Preparedness Manager
University of California Los Angeles

ICS is a process and one of the important processes is the pre-planning that goes in, the preparedness, the forward thinking – thinking forward as to what might occur so that when an incident does occur, logical steps and sequences can occur.

Toni J. Rinaldi
Director of Public Safety
Naugatuck Valley Community College

There’s a lot of steps that help to make ICS work before the actual incident occurs and nowadays particularly you hear a lot about interagency cooperation, mutual aid agreements, memorandums of understanding, and what it all boils down to—it’s communication.  It’s about communication, both within your agency so that people understand what their role is in an incident and that it’s not just delegated or relegated to the public safety or first responder section, but it’s everyone’s responsibility on a college campus to respond to and to have an active role in response to an incident. 

Dorothy Miller
Emergency Management Coordinator
University of Texas at Dallas

You entrust people that you know before, if somebody comes on the scene that I have no idea who they are, I don’t know if they should be on the scene so I don’t what their credentials are.  I don’t know who they work for, so it creates this little security issue if you don’t know who those people are and it’s just wasting time.  The relationship-building aspect is huge in this field.

George Nuñez
Supervising Emergency Management Associate
George Washington University

Being in the field of emergency management I think it is important that institutions of higher education understand that they need to have comprehensive emergency management plans.  By having comprehensive plans that cover all hazards, that cover all response, all entities at the university or college campus, we’re able to integrate all of these components into an incident.  College or institutions of higher education need to be prepared—that is probably the biggest emphasis or most important thing that college campuses can do is be prepared.