Step 5: Plan Your Strategy — What is the Incident Command System?

October 1, 2014

An image of the incident command post

We’d now like to share with you the main components of the Incident Command System, a procedure that has been very effective for first emergency responders and also used by CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) during a disaster.

First, an Incident Commander is assigned, who is responsible for deciding what is to be done. Then, various teams are assigned to the following incident modules:

• Operations — executes the decided actions
• Logistics — coordinates available resources, such as transportation and supplies
• Planning & Intelligence — keeps track of information and updates, and plans for future activities

Here’s a closer look at the specific teams under each incident nodule:

Operations:
Search & Rescue Team — CERT members with Search & Rescue training as well as DART (Disaster Animal Rescue Teams) members are ideal for this team. They look for the OK/Help hangers, check on those who require additional assistance, do a damage assessment to identify hazard areas and prioritize Search & Rescue operations.

Care Teams — several teams fall under this category, and those with healthcare training are ideal for these teams.
• Triage Team determines priority that injured survivors will receive first aid
• Treatment Team takes care of the injured
• Morgue Team manages the deceased
• Care Center Team provides extra care

Logistics:
Materials & Supplies Team — This team coordinates needed materials and supplies from within the neighborhood.

Transportation Team — This team coordinates transportation of supplies, equipment and people.

Planning & Intelligence:
Communications Team — This team listens to the Emergency Alert System, Family Radio Service (FRS)/ham radio, and the National Weather Radio stations for vital information and updates. They are responsible for communicating information within the defined area of your disaster plan, and to convey information to/from the neighborhood to first responders and other City agencies like police and fire.

Neighbor Information Team — This team coordinates information about survivors and relays information about rescue progress and survivor status (injured, missing, etc.) from the Command Post to the Care Center.

Rescue Progress Team — This team keeps track of the rescue progress of survivors.

We’ve covered a lot of information here, and it may seem overwhelming. But this is a system that can be modified or expanded, depending upon the emergency or disaster. One tip to keep in mind is to assign team roles based on the needs of the disaster and the people who you have, and then you’ll be able to create a smoother and more successful emergency response.

Learn more about Step 5: Plan Your Strategy

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