The Incident Command System is described as a standardized on site management system developed to enhance efficient and effective incident management by combining communication process, procedures, personnel, equipment and facilities within a common organizational structure. ICS is simply a model tool used for coordinating, controlling and commanding of response and providing a coordinated efforts of an emergency response agency as they engage in activities that aims at protecting environment, properties and life as well as mitigating the disasters (Jensen & Thompson, 2016). It is model in the sense that it uses principles that have been tested and proved to be effective and efficient when responding to emergencies. Studies have shown that ICS is applicable when responding to emergencies such as hazardous materials, planned incidents, natural disasters, single and multi-agency law enforcement disasters, fires, pest control incidents and emergency management incidents.
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As an emergency manager, I have learned that Federal law makes it mandatory to use ICS when responding to emergency involving hazardous materials. As a result, many states have adopted the use of ICS as a standard measure for responding to all emergency incidents. For example, American Public Works Association and International Association of Chiefs of Police have endorsed the use of ICS (Jensen & Thompson, 2016). This has seen the National Fire Academy adopting ICS as standard approach for responding to all emergency incidents. Other federal agencies and institutions that have adopted ICS include National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and they have made ICS as a recommended Practice for Disaster management.
Analysis indicated that ICS was established in 1970 with the key objective of addressing a series of major wild-land fires in southern California. During this period, the Federal, State, County and Municipal in California collaborated to form Firefighting Resources for potential emergencies that resulted from wild-fires (Moynihan & LaFollete, 2016). The menace of series of wild-fires was attributed to various factors which included lack of coordinated action plan, designated facilities, lack of standard and integrated communication, lack of ability to contract and expand as necessitated by the situation. As a result, ICS model was developed to address these challenges and ensured effective incident management. Initially, ICS was developed to address the issues of wild-fires in California but currently, ICS has evolved to address all-risk system which include fire and non-fire emergencies.
The application of ICS includes organizational structure and core management principles in a standard way. It is important to understand that many incidents be it small such as utility outages and house fire or major incidents such as hazardous materials or major natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes calls for the use of ICS by multi-agencies that responses to these emergencies. Without considering the size of the any incident, many agencies are required to respond to it (Moynihan & LaFollete, 2016). This means that comprehensive coordination is required to ensure for effective and efficient response is attained as well as efficient utilization of resources. For example, small accident that involves multiple cars would require more than two agencies to respond to it. These include law enforcement to remove the blockage, paramedics to provide emergency medical services, public works to assess structural engineering and fire department to contain any fire if any of the car involved in the accident catches the fire. For effective and efficient response, these multi-agencies must coordinate properly.
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