The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized on-site management system that allows its users to adopt an integrated organizational structure flexible that may be enough to meet the demands of small/large emergency or non-emergency circumstances.
Designed to the command, control and coordination of emergency response, ICS runs a combination of facilities, equipment, procedures, personnel and communications. Represented as the best practice, this system has become the standard for emergency management across the United States.
What Are the Key Components of the ICS?
ICS works to help incident commanders manage and meet their incident plan that also encourages a controlled and systematic approach to resolving incidents. There are a number of key components of the ICS, including:
- Clear, visible and defined lines of command
- Manageable spans of control
- A communications infrastructure
- Appropriate responsibility and authority
- Clearly defined and understood roles and responsibilities
- Sectorisation of the incident
The components of ICS are the role of incident commanders to organize resources safely and effectively to get the best resolution to an incident. That’s also the role of all personnel who are probably involved with an incident that aims to understand the requirements of the ICS and know how to operate in it effectively.
The ICS actually allows the commander of the incident to use health and safety arrangements, policies or procedures that are suited to the characteristics of an incident and the objectives of the incident plan. Moreover, it helps to reach a balance between benefit and risk.
In every condition, the commanders of incidents must be aware of becoming overburdened and having too broad a span of control that can result in ineffective leadership, poor communications and poor decision-making, as well as leading to a failure of situational awareness.
What Are the Major Management Function that Make ICS to Develop?
There are at least five major management functions as the foundation to make the ICS organization develop. Those functions actually apply whether you’re handling a routine emergency, managing a response to a major disaster and organizing for a major nonemergency event.
The five major management functions include:
This function adjusts incident objectives and priorities that have overall responsibility at the event or incident. The example of vacation activity for the Incident Command is to establish a budget and choose the destination.
This function conducts tactical operations to carry out the plan. It’s more about developing tactical tasks and organization and directing all tactical resources. The example of vacation activity for the operations is to choose the method of travel, operate the vehicle and determine the route to the destination.
This function is to prepare and document the Incident Action Plan (IAP) to complete the incident objectives, collect and evaluate information, maintain resource status and documentation for incident records.
The example of vacation activity for the planning function is to find the most expedient route to the destination, determine how many miles will be travelled and determine whether or not there are any current obstacles.
This function is to provide resources, support and all other services that are needed to fulfil the incident objectives. The example of vacation activity for logistics function is to set for fuel, vehicle, lodging and food.
- Finance/ Administration
This function is to monitor costs that are related to the incident and also provide procurement, accounting cost analyses and time recording. The example of vacation activity for finance/ administrative function is to pay for the trip.
What Are the Benefits of Incident Command System (ICS)?
Of course, there are a number of benefits that ICS delivers, here they are:
- To provide an orderly, systematic planning process.
- To make sure the efficient use of resources that runs about the safety of the community, responder and efficient use of resources that can be used as a natural disaster or as human cause or technological hazard.
- To ensure that there’s full utilization of all incidents by ensuring that there’s integrated communication and by maintaining manageable span control.
- To take advantage of interoperate communications systems and plain language in order to improve communications.
- To clarify chain of command and supervision responsibilities to improve accountability.
- To apply a common, flexible, predesign management structure.
- To keep maintaining cooperation between agencies and diverse disciplines.
Additionally, ICS needs to meet some management challenges, considering ICS should be interdisciplinary and organizationally flexible. The challenges include:
- Fulfilling the needs of incidents of any size or kind.
- Able to be used for routine or planned events such as conferences and also large and complex emergency incidents.
- Allowing personnel from various agencies to meld rapidly into a common management structure.
- Providing logistical and administrative support to ensure that operational staff like veterinarians or entomologists will be able to meet tactical objectives.
- Be affordable to avoid duplication of efforts.
What Cause the Incident Management Become Weak?
There are several reasons why the incident management becomes weak, here they are:
- Because of poor communication that may be caused by both inefficient uses of available communications systems and conflicting codes and terminology.
- Because of lack of accountability including unclear supervision and chain of command.
- Because of lack of an orderly, systematic planning process,
- There’s no effective predefined way to integrate inter-agency requirements into the management structure and planning process.
- Because of freelancing performed by individuals within the first response team without direction from a team leader and people who have specialized skills during an incident and without coordination with other first responders.
- Because of lack of knowledge with common terminology during an incident.
It is known that Emergency Managers specified that the existing management structures did not scale to dealing with massive mutual aid responses that involve a number of distinct agencies and also when a variety of agencies worked together their particular training and procedures clashed.
It resulted in a new command and control paradigm that was collaboratively developed to provide a consistent, integrated framework for the management of all incidents from small to large incidents, multi-agency emergencies.