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National Incident Management Systems. Session 6 Slide Deck. Session Objectives. 1 Discuss alternative models to NIMS ICS 2 Cite potential positive and negative attributes of the ICS 3 Discuss some of the limitations of the ICS

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session objectives
Session Objectives

1 Discuss alternative models to NIMS ICS

2 Cite potential positive and negative

attributes of the ICS

3 Discuss some of the limitations of the ICS

and obstacles to effective implementation

4 Understand how to utilize information about

limitations and obstacles

  • Become a better participant within ICS structures
  • Understand the context in which the ICS operates
  • Understand the challenges faced by the system in implementation
alternative models and the nims ics
Alternative models and the NIMS ICS
  • NIMS ICS designed to be universal
  • Alternatives to NIMS ICS not supposed to be used
  • Many different models were used for decades within the fire discipline
  • Most models based on either the FIRESCOPE ICS or the Fireground Command System
firescope ics
  • 1960s response to a series of wildfires
  • Interagency group convened to solve problems in 1972
  • Outcome was Wildfire Incident Command System
  • Grew in popularity
  • Adopted and adapted by fire departments and other disciplines
firescope ics and nims ics
  • FIRESCOPE ICS most similar to NIMS ICS
  • Intelligence function different
    • NIMS ICS allows addition of 6th functional area for intelligence
    • FIRESCOPE located information and intelligence functions within Planning Section
fireground command system
Fireground Command System
  • Chief Brunacini at Pheonix Fire Departments
    • Recognized similar problems to those in wildland firefighting
    • Believed a system that could be used day-to-day more useful
    • Adapted FIRESCOPE model for structural fires
differences between the systems
Differences Between the Systems
  • Suitability to incidents of different scale, scope and duration
  • Utilization of hierarchical levels and organizational structures
  • Terminology
examples of adaptations
Examples of Adaptations
  • National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS)
  • NFPA 1561, Standard on Fire Department Incident Management System
  • Model Procedures Guide for Structural Firefighting
shared concepts and principles
Shared Concepts and Principles
  • Each version shares basic concepts and principles
  • Examples include
    • Hierarchical modular organization
    • Span of control
    • Establishment and transfer of command
    • Chain of command and unity of command
    • Accountability
    • Information management
  • Terminology
  • Organizational structuring mechanisms
  • Positions (roles and titles)
critical issue
Critical Issue
  • Not the number of variations that exist
  • But that jurisdictions and disciplines have felt it necessary to adapt and modify the ICS
  • In fact, variations to this day
    • Nonuse
    • Partial use
    • Modifications
    • Adaptations
  • Implications for response efforts?
  • What may contribute to the tendency of jurisdictions to change the system?
  • These questions will be discussed throughout this session.
  • Form groups of 2-4 people
  • Brainstorm a list of potential positive and negative attributes of the ICS
  • You will have 10 minutes
  • When finished write your group’s list on the blackboard/whiteboard
potentially positive attributes
Potentially Positive Attributes
  • Flexible
  • Widely applicable
  • Designed to standardize
  • Can be used day-to-day
  • All levels of government and all disciplines
  • Based on proven management characteristics
  • Enjoys wide support
  • Use is required
  • Use can decrease
    • Perception of chaos and confusion
    • Communication problems
    • Leadership issues
    • Duplication of effort
    • Unnecessary response-related expenditures
  • Use can increase safety of responders
potentially negative attributes
Potentially Negative Attributes
  • Based on assumptions
  • Characteristics of emergencies and disasters
  • Everyone has to use the system
  • Everyone has to be trained
  • Positions are specialized
  • Everyone has to practice
  • Everyone has recognize incident commander as legitimate
  • On-scene management
  • Volunteers and groups will emerge
  • Temporary Use
  • ICS is mandates
  • Buy-in and commitment are necessary
  • Perceptions vary
    • Levels of government
    • Person-to-person
    • Organization-to-organization
  • Questions to consider:
    • Why did you choose to list attributes as positive or negative?
    • Are there any attributes that do not belong? If so, why?
flexibility and scalability
+ Flexibility and Scalability +
  • Certain functions must be addressed in every incident
  • System can be adapted based on nature of incident, stage of incident, and available resources
  • Quickly scaled up or down
  • Facilitated by as little as one or many
+ Applicability +
  • Characteristics of incident should not affect the use of the ICS
  • Has been used successfully to manage diverse incidents
+ Standardization +
  • Should be used in the same way
  • Allows predictable and patterned coordination and communication
used day to day
+ Used Day-to-Day +
  • Plan events
  • Structure administrative activities
  • Response to routine emergencies
  • Coordinate response to disasters
  • Day-to-day use encourages smooth transition into and scaling up of the ICS
all levels of government and disciplines
+ All Levels of Government and Disciplines +
  • Designed to let all entities merge into common structure
  • Work together efficiently
  • Despite, different
    • Missions
    • Priorities
    • Responsibilities
    • Terminology
    • Cultures
proven management characteristics
+ Proven Management Characteristics +
  • Practitioner developed
  • Based on “best practices” and “lessons learned”
  • Continues to evolve
wide support
+ Wide Support +
  • Fire discipline has used for decades
  • Other organizations adopted prior to the mandate of the ICS through NIMS
  • Examples include
    • United States Coast Guard
    • Occupational Health and Safety Administration
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Military and some businesses
ics is required
+ ICS is Required+
  • Condition for funding
  • Should ensure compliance
perception of chaos and confusion
+ Perception of Chaos and Confusion +
  • Common issue—perceptions of chaos
    • Link with lack of organization
  • The ICS can reduce when effectively implemented
communication problems
+ Communication Problems +
  • Utilize common terminology, incident action planning, ICS forms, and other tools
  • Tools designed to
    • Facilitate flow of information and
    • Minimize communication problems
leadership issues
+ Leadership Issues +
  • Common issue—perceived lack of command and control
  • The ICS provides processes for
    • Designation of incident commander
    • Transferring command
    • Use of unified command
duplication of effort
+ Duplication of Effort +
  • Common issue—more than one organization attempts to meet the same need
  • Leads to unnecessary response-related expenditures
  • Use of the ICS should eliminate
increase safety
+ Increase Safety +
  • Priority placed on safety in many ways
  • Examples include
    • Designation of safety officer
    • Incident action planning process
    • Resource management
    • Span of control
- Assumptions -
  • Chaotic situations that must be managed through command and control
  • System works
  • It works for everyone
  • Everyone will want to use it
  • Response will be efficient if used
  • Little research
  • Implications if any assumptions are not true?
incident characteristics
- Incident Characteristics -
  • Prior research on disasters
  • Qualitative and quantitative differences
  • How might qualitative and quantitative differences impact the ability to implement the ICS?
everyone has to use
- Everyone Has to Use -
  • Relies on consistent use
    • Within organizations
    • Across organizations
  • Creates opportunities for the system not to perform
- Training -
  • Depends on knowledge
  • Knowledge depends on training
    • Accessible and available
  • Additional position-specific training
    • More than one person in preparation for large-scale incidents
  • Ongoing training due to turnover
  • Jurisdictions
    • Commit personnel and funding
    • Easier for some than others
  • What might happen if jurisdictions do not get enough training?
- Practice -
  • Depends on practice (i.e. experience) using system
  • Get practice
    • Exercises
    • Actual incident management
    • Use on a daily basis
    • What happens if organizations do not have enough practice?
incident commander
- Incident Commander -
  • Incident commander
    • Must be perceived to be legitimate
    • All must work under the incident commander
  • Clear criteria, but
    • May not follow the criteria
    • And/or may not agree on how command and control should be handled
  • What happens if they do not work within the structure?
on scene management
- On-scene Management -
  • ICS used for field operations
  • MACs can use what they feel best-suited
  • Implications for response if similar systems are not used in each?
volunteers and emergent groups
- Volunteers and Emergent Groups -
  • Volunteers and emergent groups
    • Research has shown common, necessary, and helpful
  • Not always positively perceived
  • Implications of volunteers and emergent groups for the ICS?
temporary use
- Temporary Use -
  • Many organizations do not use the ICS on a daily basis
  • Reasons why they do not include
    • Organization’s mission, priorities, leadership, and culture
    • Complexity may be off-putting
  • Potential issues for traditional first responders too
  • Implications if not used on a daily basis?
ics mandate
- ICS Mandate -
  • Both positive and negative attribute
  • Have to be compliant for certain funding
    • No obligation if they do not seek funding
  • Implications if jurisdictions opt out?
buy in
- Buy-in -
  • Resentment of federal mandates
  • Training and practice not enough
  • Implications if jurisdictions do not buy-in to the system?
  • Continue to work in same groups.
  • Review and analyze one of four Moynihan (2006) case studies
  • Identify the factors that encouraged or limited the implementation of the ICS in the case study.
  • You have 20 minutes to conduct your analysis and prepare a list.
1993 laguna and 2003 cedar fires
1993 Laguna and 2003 Cedar Fires



There were not enough resources

Incident’s scope rapidly expanded

There were jurisdictional disagreements

Individuals worked outside the ICS/chain of command

Responders did not have sufficient training and experience

  • Relationships and trust in place prior to incident
1995 oklahoma city bombing
1995 Oklahoma City Bombing



Resources converged

Volunteers emerged

  • Limited in scope
  • Limited number of tasks
  • Victims had limited variety of needs
  • Agreement about who should be in charge
  • There were enough resources
  • Well-practiced and trained
  • Preexisting relationships
2001 attack on the pentagon
2001 Attack on the Pentagon

Only Encouraging Factors

Incident command established without debate

System was used flexibly

Responders had training and experience

Preexisting relationships and trust

  • Limited geographic scope
  • Small number of victims
  • Incident site easily accessible
  • There were enough resources
  • The types of tasks generated by incident were familiar
hurricane katrina
Hurricane Katrina

Only Limiting Factors

Neither incident command or unified command were established

Responding organizations were themselves overwhelmed

Lack of knowledge and training

Lack of accountability

Lack of preexisting relationships

  • Geographic scope widespread
  • Large number of tasks
  • Lack of resources
  • Communications systems and facilities unusable
  • Many individuals and organizations involved and worked outside the ICs

Conditions Encouraging Use

High capacity and adequate resources

Preexisting relationships

  • Limited number of tasks
  • Geographically limited incidents
  • Limited time pressure
  • A manageable number of organizations involved in the response
  • Responders have experience with the ICS model
moynihan s conclusion
Moynihan’s Conclusion
  • Responders cannot control nature of crisis faced
  • Implications:
    • Issues the system itself cannot correct
    • Nature of the incident
    • Potentially allows explanation and prediction
moynihan 2008
Moynihan (2008)
  • The success of the ICS is contingent
  • Limited:
    • Nature of crisis
    • Lack of experience
  • Encouraged:
    • Use of SOPs
    • Interagency trust
    • Incidents long duration and limited scope
buck et al 2006
Buck et al. (2006)
  • Preconditions:
    • Familiar tasks
    • Preexisting relationships and trust
    • Incident characteristics
  • Conclude
    • System not flawed, rather faulty implementation
    • Doubtful will be used “by all actors and in all disaster contexts”
    • Not a universal system
perry 2006
Perry (2006)
  • Preconditions:
    • Familiar tasks
    • Training
    • Enough resources
    • Effective resource management
wenger et al 1990
Wenger et al. (1990)
  • Problem with system itself
  • Findings:
    • The ICS modified and adapted
    • Does not deal well with small scale disasters
    • Issues with command
    • Too “fire-centric”
    • Did not integrate organizations into system well
    • Depends on significant practice
    • Complex nature of disasters not conducive to standardization
efo papers
EFO Papers
  • Supportive of the ICS and its use as a standard
  • But many similar issues to those in academic work
    • Working with other jurisdictions and/or agencies/organizations
    • Resource issues
    • How departments (or other organizations) used the system
    • Appropriateness for volunteer and small fire departments
    • Command and the ICS
    • Command post and emergency operation center interface
efo papers cont
EFO Papers Cont.
  • Conditions:
    • Buy-in
    • Training
    • Regional perspective
    • Funding and resources
    • Critical role of practice
    • Daily use
implications from literature
Implications from Literature

Factors within control

Factors beyond control

Availability of resources (e.g. funding)

Incident characteristics

Victims’ needs

Number and kind of tasks

Whether or not other organizations involved have trained, practiced, and are committed

  • Training
  • Education
  • Practice
  • Resource management
  • Generating buy-in and commitment
implications cont
Implications Cont.
  • Successful implementation may be dependent on preconditions
  • ICS not a “cure-all”
  • But knowledge of limitations and obstacles can help
  • Take 5 minutes to individually consider how the information and discussion from this session might impact you in your
    • First job where ICS training and implementation is required
    • As a professional in the field of emergency management
    • As an emergency management student
first job
First Job
  • Manage expectations
  • Manage personal performance
  • Recognize where obstacles may exist and work with other stakeholders to overcome those obstacles
  • Understand there may be factors beyond control
  • Better understanding of what may have impacted the performance of the system in particular incidents
  • Understand that some issues can be controlled and others cannot
  • System will be refined over time
  • When change required ensure preconditions met and/or advocate for the resources necessary to ensure they are met
  • Understand the contributions that empirical research and testing can and needs to make
  • Connect the disaster literature to the ICS
  • Utilize the way we have analyzed the ICS and apply this type of analysis to other emergency management issues