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Incident Management System

Organized teams get to work when there is an emergency. Public emergency teams may also be needed. Contractors, and other resources, may be called upon. Telephone lines might get overwhelmed by questions from the community, news media, employees and their families, and the local officials. These resources and activities must be managed by a business, but how? Businesses need to have an incident management system (IMS). IMS is ďthe combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure, designed to aid in the management of resources during incidentsĒ (NFPA 1600).

The National Incident Management System (NIMS), established by FEMA, includes the Incident Command System (ICS). NIMS is utilized by all public agencies in the United States as the standard for emergency management. This is for both emergency and planned events. The ICS is beneficial for businesses that have emergency response teams who use public emergency services. Business operation disruption can be managed by the ICS. The ICS structure contains crisis communications and public information.

Incident stabilization activities (e.g. property conservation, damage assessment, and firefighting) might be underway at the incidentís scene when an incident occurs. Others which are assigned to support the incident stabilization, crisis communication activities, or business continuity will report to the emergency operations center (EOC). Emergency operations centers are virtual or physical locations where support for the incident management activities gets directed.

Incident Command System




The Incident Command System (ICS) manages emergencies by utilizing by public agencies. Businesses can use the ICS along with public agencies in an emergency. Incident command is an important concept that private sector businesses must be familiar with. The complexity of the business will determine the use of ICS. Roles and functions might be assigned to several individuals or just a few people might be assigned several responsibilities.

All ICS positions donít need to be activated all the time. Depending on the incident, the ICS should expand and contract. For small-scale incidents assignments might only be made to the incident commander. Once the emergency services get to a scene, command of the incident would transfer to officer on the scene of the public agency that responded. Once the public agency leaves the command would transfer back to the business.

Abbreviated summaries of the responsibilities and roles of each ICS position is listed below.

Incident Commander
  • Verify or notify suppliers, contractors, regulators, public agencies, departments and internal teams
  • Order the warning of people either at risk or potential risk to take the appropriate protective actions
  • Assess the situation
  • Maintain the command until the public agencies arrive and assume the command or when you are relieved at the start of the next operational period
  • Take charge of the organizationís on the scene response
  • Coordinate activities with EOC; provide impact assessment for the business continuity, management, and crisis communications; identify activities and priorities
  • Determine the incident strategies and objectives; ensure the strategy/planning meetings are held and attended as they are needed; identify information that is required or needed by others
  • Brief the staff on the current activities and organization; schedule the planning meeting; assign tasks
  • Appoint other as needed to incident command positions
  • Terminate the responses and demobilize the resources when the situation is stabilized
  • Provide information and coordinate with the media relations team or crisis communications
  • Review the requests for resources; approve all the requests for resources as they are required; confirm who has the authority to approve the procurement
Safety
  • Stop the unsafe acts and correct the unsafe conditions
  • Prepare a safety plan and ensure the messages are communicated
  • Identify and assess the hazardous situations and prevent accidents
Liaison
  • Monitor operations in order to identify the inter-organizational problems
  • Do a point of contact with the outside agencies and companies
Public Information
  • Monitor and forward any useful information to the news media
  • Arrange for any interviews, briefings, and tours
  • Conduct some periodic media briefings
  • Get ICís and managerial approval for all the news releases
  • Develop information to use in the media briefings
  • Notify any spokespersons and the Crisis Communications team
Operations
  • Maintain a close communication with an Incident Commander
  • Expedite the appropriate changes in the Incident Action Plan in the operations portion
  • Request any additional resources needed to support the tactical operations
  • Ensure the safe tactical operations for all the responders (in conjunction with the assigned Safety Officers)
  • Assist with the development of the operations portion in the Incident Action Plan
  • Manage all the tactical operations during the incidents
Planning
  • Determine the needs for technical experts from either within or outside the company as well as the specialized resources for supporting the incident
  • Supervise the preparation of the Incident Action Plan
  • Facilitate and conduct the planning meetings
  • Assess the current impacts and potential impacts on property, people, and environment
  • Assemble the information on the alternative plans and strategies
  • Coordinate with the business continuity and the senior management teams
  • Compile and then display the incident status information
Logistics
  • Provides the updates on resources (deployment, response time, and availability)
  • Attends the planning meetings; provides the input for the Incident Action Plan
  • Assesses the communication needs and facilitates the communication between agencies/personnel/teams
  • Ensure the Incident Command Post and the other facilities have been established as is needed
  • Shelter, water, food, and medical care
  • Communications equipment
  • Transportation
  • Media briefing center
  • Workspace or other facilities for the incident management staff
  • Provides the resources to stabilize the incident and support systems, personnel, and equipment
  • Estimates and procures the resources needed for the next operational period
Finance/Administration
  • Provides the oversight of the financial expenditures, contracts and assistance agreements, new leases, etc. to comply with corporate governance
  • Provides forecasted and incurred costs at the planning meetings
  • Notifies the risk management/insurance in order to initiate the claims reporting
  • Documents the claims for damage, injuries, and liability
  • Tracks worker time the costs for supplies and materials
  • Create accounts for the costs and claims; coordinates with Logistics
  • Provides cost and financial analysis information as requested
  • Manages all the financial aspects of the incident

Emergency Operations Center

A emergency operations center (EOC) may be a physical location or a computer generated one created to assist crisis response, business stability, and emergency communications. Meeting at the EOC provides an effective means to manage a current crisis or to prepare for an impending one. Having a place to gather provides the decision makers with a place to share important information, creating an opportunity for better choices to be made. In order for the EOC to be of optimum use there should be a EOC in the main facility and another EOC at a secondary location, such as a hotel, or a computer generated one via the internet or conference call. The EOC is critical with the following crisis management tasks:

Activation - create a central hub for all of the knowledge and expertise the company has access to in order to join together to deal with potential threats to the business.

Situation Analysis - procure data on the current situation that aids the experts in making correct decisions.

Incident Briefing - quickly provide all team members with information.

Incident Action Plan - Effectively create a central point for decision making in order to make choices on the current incident and the best course of action.

Resource Management Ė Provides a central point for procuring and allocating supplies.

Incident Management Ėlogs data and adjusts plans and strategies as needed.

Incident command posts (ICP) are not EOCís-ICPís are posts where techniques are focused on controlling the current situation. EOCís are required to work with on-scene projects through the allocation of available resources and prioritizing current projects. The main purpose of the EOC is networking of the business stability team, the emergency response team, the emergency communications team and company management.

How to Structure Your Emergency Operations Center

A good example of a good location for a emergency operations center and main team meeting location is a large conference room. The essentials for this location include but are not limited to: telephone and internet access, photocopier, network printer, and fax machines access, as well as furniture and other office equipment. The following list is what all EOCís should be equipped with.
  • Equipment to use any relevant means of communication: cell phone, landline with speaker phone, fax machines, and any relevant radio system.
  • Computer, printer, and network access. This access would include a means to access copies of crisis response, business stability and emergency communication strategies, as well as an active internet connection.
  • Means to gather and show information encompassing connection to broadcast radio and television or access to mainstream media websites. Objects that may be used to display information include: whiteboards, monitors, projectors, and/or flipcharts.
  • Physical facsimiles of crisis documents including crisis response, business stability and emergency communications plans, contact lists, current inventory, and maps of facilities and systems.
  • Paper (including all required forms), writing utensils (pens, pencils, markers, etc.) and various other writing supplies.
  • Water, edible food, as well as culinary supplies.
Whenever there is an excessive incident that produces a great deal of damage to property, or any other situation that has the potential or is currently disturbing the stability of the business the EOC should be brought online.
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