Principles of Emergency Management and Emergency Operations Centers (EOC)

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An EOC is responsible for strategic direction and operational decisions and does not normally directly control field assets, instead leaving tactical decisions to lower commands. The common functions of EOCs is to collect, gather and analyze data; make decisions that protect life and property, maintain continuity of the organization, within the scope of applicable laws; and disseminate those decisions to all concerned agencies and individuals. EOCs, originally created as part of United States civil defense , can be found in many nations, at all government levels, as well as in larger corporations that deal with large equipment or numbers of employees.

In corporations and smaller jurisdictions, the EOC may be co-located in the same room as an emergency communications center. The first most critical component of an EOC is the individuals who staff it. They must be properly trained, and have the proper authority to carry out actions that are necessary to respond to the disaster. They also must be capable of thinking outside the box , and creating a lot of "what if" scenarios. The local EOC's function during an emergency is to support the incident commander.

The second most critical component of an EOC is its communications system. This can be from simple word of mouth, to sophisticated encrypted communications networks, but it must provide for a redundant path to ensure that both situational awareness information and strategic orders can pass into and out of the facility without interruption. For continuity of operations considerations, backbone components of the communications system are not normally located at the EOC.

A number of EOC facilities are incorporating radio over IP technology to provide a coherent assembly of various radios, interoperability with various radio technologies, and integration with telephone systems.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. ICS is mandated by law for all Hazardous Materials responses nationally and for many other emergency operations in most states. ICS is also used by agencies in Canada. Incidents are defined within ICS as unplanned situations necessitating a response. Examples of incidents may include:. Events are defined within ICS as planned situations. Incident command is increasingly applied to events both in emergency management and non-emergency management settings. Examples of events may include:. Each individual participating in the operation reports to only one supervisor.

This eliminates the potential for individuals to receive conflicting orders from a variety of supervisors, thus increasing accountability, preventing freelancing, improving the flow of information, helping with the coordination of operational efforts, and enhancing operational safety. This concept is fundamental to the ICS chain of command structure. Individual response agencies previously developed their protocols separately, and subsequently developed their terminology separately. This can lead to confusion as a word may have a different meaning for each organization.

When different organizations are required to work together, the use of common terminology is an essential element in team cohesion and communications, both internally and with other organizations responding to the incident. An incident command system promotes the use of a common terminology and has an associated glossary of terms that help bring consistency to position titles, the description of resources and how they can be organized, the type and names of incident facilities, and a host of other subjects.

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The use of common terminology is most evident in the titles of command roles, such as Incident Commander , Safety Officer or Operations Section Chief. Incidents are managed by aiming towards specific objectives. Objectives are ranked by priority; should be as specific as possible; must be attainable; and if possible given a working time-frame.

Objectives are accomplished by first outlining strategies general plans of action , then determining appropriate tactics how the strategy will be executed for the chosen strategy.

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Incident Command structure is organized in such a way as to expand and contract as needed by the incident scope, resources and hazards. Command is established in a top-down fashion, with the most important and authoritative positions established first. For example, Incident Command is established by the first arriving unit.

Only positions that are required at the time should be established. In most cases, very few positions within the command structure will need to be activated.

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For example, a single fire truck at a dumpster fire will have the officer filling the role of IC, with no other roles required. As more trucks get added to a larger incident, more roles will be delegated to other officers and the Incident Commander IC role will probably be handed to a more-senior officer.

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Only in the largest and most complex operations would the full ICS organization be staffed. To limit the number of responsibilities and resources being managed by any individual, the ICS requires that any single person's span of control should be between three and seven individuals, with five being ideal. In other words, one manager should have no more than seven people working under them at any given time.

If more than seven resources are being managed by an individual, then they are being overloaded and the command structure needs to be expanded by delegating responsibilities e. If fewer than three, then the position's authority can probably be absorbed by the next highest rung in the chain of command.

One of the benefits of the ICS is that it allows a way to coordinate a set of organizations who may otherwise work together sporadically. While much training material emphasizes the hierarchical aspects of the ICS, it can also be seen as an inter-organizational network of responders.

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These network qualities allow the ICS flexibility and expertise of a range of organizations. But the network aspects of the ICS also create management challenges. One study of ICS after-action reports found that ICS tended to enjoy higher coordination when there was strong pre-existing trust and working relationships between members, but struggled when authority of the ICS was contested and when the networks of responders was highly diverse.

These goals are set for specific operational periods. They provide supervisors with direct action plans to communicate incident objectives to both operational and support personnel. They include measurable, strategic objectives set for achievement within a time frame, AKA an operational period, which is usually 12 hours but can be any length of time. The consolidated IAP is a very important component of the ICS that reduces freelancing and ensures a coordinated response.

At the simplest level, all Incident Action Plans must have four elements:. The content of the IAP is organized by a number of standardized ICS forms that allow for accurate and precise documentation of an incident.

Principles of Emergency Management and Emergency Operations Centers (EOC)

ICS Forms in Spanish. Comprehensive resource management is a key management principle that implies that all assets and personnel during an event need to be tracked and accounted for. It can also include processes for reimbursement for resources, as appropriate.

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  • Resource management includes processes for:. Comprehensive resource management ensures that visibility is maintained over all resources so they can be moved quickly to support the preparation and response to an incident, and ensuring a graceful demobilization. It also applies to the classification of resources by type and kind, and the categorization of resources by their status. The cards are placed in T-Card racks located at an Incident Command Post for easy updating and visual tracking of resource status. Developing an integrated voice and data communications system, including equipment, systems, and protocols, must occur prior to an incident.

    This role is unique in ICS as it can be arranged in multiple ways based on the judgement of the Incident Commander and needs of the incident. The three possible arrangements are:.

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    • It acts as an introduction to the utilization of more than one agency and the possibility of numerous operational periods. It also involves an introduction to the Emergency Operations Center. At the ICS level, the focus is on large, complex incidents. Topics covered include the characteristics of incident complexity, the approaches to dividing an incident into manageable components, the establishment of an "Area Command", and the MultiAgency Coordination System MACS. ICS is organized by levels, with the supervisor of each level holding a unique title e.

      Levels supervising person's title are:. ICS uses a standard set of facility nomenclature. ICS facilities include: Pre-Designated Incident Facilities: Response operations can form a complex structure that must be held together by response personnel working at different and often widely separate incident facilities. These facilities can include:. Each facility has unique location, space, equipment, materials, and supplies requirements that are often difficult to address, particularly at the outset of response operations.