The National Response Framework integrates coordinating structures that have been developed, tested, and refined over time. In this presentation, we’ll review the major response structures used for coordination at all levels, beginning with local response organizations.
A basic premise of the Framework is that incidents generally begin and end locally, and most incidents are managed entirely at the local level.
Local responders and other levels of government use the Incident Command System, or ICS, to manage response operations. ICS is a management system designed to enable effective incident management by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure.
The Incident Commander communicates with the local emergency operations center, or EOC, to report on the incident status and request resources. During an incident, the local emergency manager ensures the EOC is staffed to support the incident command and arranges needed resources. The chief elected or appointed official provides policy direction and supports the Incident Commander and emergency manager, as needed.
When an incident grows beyond the capability of a local or tribal jurisdiction, and responders cannot meet the needs with mutual aid and assistance resources, the emergency manager may contact the State. State EOCs are activated as necessary to ensure that responders have the resources they need. The Governor may provide the needed resources or request assistance from other States through mutual aid and assistance agreements such as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
When it is clear that State/tribal capabilities will be exceeded, the Governor or tribal Chief Executive may request Federal assistance. Federal assistance can be provided to State, tribal, and local jurisdictions, and to other Federal agencies, through various mechanisms and authorities.
For our purposes, let’s assume the Governor is requesting assistance under the Stafford Act. Federal incident-level operations are managed through Unified Coordination under the leadership of the Unified Coordination Group at the Joint Field Office, or JFO. The JFO provides a central location for the coordination of Federal, State, tribal, and local governments and private-sector and nongovernmental organizations with primary responsibility for response and recovery. Although the JFO uses an ICS structure, it does not manage on-scene operations. Rather, the JFO provides support to on-scene efforts.
Coordinating structures can be assembled and organized at the regional level to address incidents that cross State borders or have broad geographic or system-wide implications or to manage competing requirements for response assets among multiple incidents.
Regional Response Coordination Centers, or RRCCs, coordinate Federal regional response efforts until the JFO is established. These regional offices mobilize Federal assets and evaluation teams to work with State, tribal, and local agencies.
To address incidents that cross regional borders or have broad geographic or system-wide implications, and to ensure integration of Federal response efforts, coordinating structures are assembled and organized at the headquarters level.
The National Operations Center, called the NOC, serves as the primary national hub for situational awareness and operations coordination. The NOC provides the Secretary of Homeland Security and other principals with information necessary to make critical national-level incident management decisions.
One key component of the NOC is the National Response Coordination Center, which is referred to as the NRCC. The NRCC is FEMA’s focal point for national response coordination. The NRCC provides overall emergency management coordination, conducts operational planning, deploys national-level teams, and builds and maintains a common operating picture.
This presentation introduced the major coordinating structures for response at the local, regional, and national levels. By promoting the use of these flexible, scalable, and adaptable structures, the National Response Framework ensures that we are prepared to respond together as a Nation.