An Introduction to Incident Command Systems

In this posting we take a close look at Incident Command Systems. Specifically we try to answer the following three questions:

  1. What are the fundamental elements of incident command and the relationship among them?
  2. What are the various positions that make up the typical ICS, and how do they relate with each other?
  3. What are the functions of the general staff that could also be embedded in another standard functional area depending on incident?

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Who’s In Charge-Response and Recovery

As of now, I am in control here,” Secretary of State Alexander Haig

The question driving this post is simply who is in charge. Another deceptively easy question, or is it? In the event of a disaster within the US, who is the person issuing the final orders? The answer to this question is, it depends. It depends on the cause of the disaster, the location of the disaster, and the scope of the disaster.

The first step is to break the types of disasters into two main categories: manmade and natural. For the sake of answering this question the manmade category will only apply to an event caused by hostile force(s). Human incompetence will fall under natural disasters.

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Biggest obstacle to Effective Control in Coordination of a National Response to Domestic Disaster

What Has Prevented Effective Responses to Domestic Disasters?

In previous postings students were asked to explore and explain fundamental emergency management concepts. This posting strikes at the heart of emergency management, the identification of the biggest obstacle to the effective control in the coordination of a national response to domestic disaster. Basically the purpose of this posting is to identify, in general, the underlying reasons some emergency response have been such…disasters. A question probably being asked in the darkened home of approximately 12,000 New Yorkers (Chiaramonte, 2013).

It is this author’s opinion based on what he had read to date and seen during national events that the two biggest hindrances to effective emergency management are: 1) lack of accountability within state and especially federal levels, 2) a population that has become increasingly less resilient and self-sufficient.

To help justify this opinion, this author will point to four events, each with very different outcomes.

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