NIMS Lesson 8
I-700 Course Summary
This lesson summarizes the key points from this course and prepares
you to take the posttest.
Introduction to NIMS
Past emergencies have taught us much about the need for a
coordinated response—especially standardization and interoperability.
NIMS is a comprehensive national approach to incident management
that is applicable at all jurisdictions and across all functional
The intent of NIMS is to:
- Be applicable across a full spectrum of potential incidents
and hazard scenarios, regardless of size or complexity.
- Improve coordination and cooperation between public and private
entities in a variety of domestic incident management activities.
NIMS Concepts and Principles
NIMS provides a framework for interoperability and compatibility by
balancing flexibility and standardization.
- NIMS provides a flexible framework that facilitates government
and private entities at all levels working together to manage domestic
incidents. This flexibility applies to all phases of incident
management, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity.
- NIMS provides a set of standardized organizational structures as
well as requirements for processes, procedures, and systems designed
to improve interoperability.
NIMS is comprised of several components that work together as a system
to provide a national framework for preparing for, preventing,
responding to, and recovering from domestic incidents. These components
- Command and management.
- Resource management.
- Communications and information management.
- Supporting technologies.
- Ongoing management and maintenance.
Although these systems are evolving, much is in place now.
Command and Management Under NIMS
NIMS employs two levels of incident management structures, depending
on the nature of the incident.
- The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standard, on-scene,
allhazard incident management system. ICS allows users to adopt an
integrated organizational structure to match the needs of single or
- Multiagency Coordination Systems are a combination of
facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications
integrated into a common framework for coordinating and supporting
The Incident Command System
ICS is a proven, on-scene, all-hazard incident management concept.
ICS has become the standard for on-scene management. ICS is
interdisciplinary and organizationally flexible to meet the
needs of incidents of any size or level of complexity. ICS has been
used for a wide range of incidents¡Xfrom planned events to hazardous
materials spills to acts of terrorism.
ICS has several features that make it well suited to managing
incidents. These features include:
- Common terminology.
- Organizational resources.
- Manageable span of control.
- Organizational facilities.
- Use of position titles.
- Reliance on an Incident Action Plan.
- Integrated communications.
The ability to communicate within ICS is absolutely critical. Using
standard or common terminology is essential to ensuring efficient,
clear communications. ICS requires the use of common terminology,
including standard titles for facilities and positions within the
Common terminology also includes the use of "clear text"-that is,
communication without the use of agency-specific codes or jargon.
In other words, use plain English.
Resources, including all personnel, facilities, and major equipment
and supply items used to support incident management activities, are
assigned common designations. Resources are "typed" with respect
to capability to help avoid confusion and enhance interoperability.
Manageable Span of Control
Maintaining adequate span of control throughout the ICS organization
is critical. Effective span of control may vary from three to seven,
and a ratio of one supervisor to five reporting elements is
If the number of reporting elements falls outside of this
range, expansion or consolidation of the organization may be necessary.
There may be exceptions, usually in lower-risk assignments or where
resources work in close proximity to each other.
Common terminology is also used to define incident facilities,
help clarify the activities that take place at a specific facility,
and identify what members of the organization can be found there.
For example, you find the Incident Commander at the Incident Command
Post. Incident facilities include:
- The Incident Command Post.
- One or more staging areas.
- A base.
- One or more camps (when needed).
- A helibase.
- One or more helispots.
Incident facilities will be established depending on the kind and
complexity of the incident. Only those facilities needed for any
given incident may be activated. Some incidents may require facilities
not included on the standard list.
Use of Position Titles
ICS positions have distinct titles.
- Only the Incident Commander is called Commander--and there is
only one Incident Commander per incident.
- Only the heads of Sections are called Chiefs.
Learning and using standard terminology helps reduce confusion
between the day-to-day position occupied by an individual and his or
her position at the incident.
Reliance on an Incident Action Plan
Incident Action Plans (IAPs) provide a coherent means to communicate
the overall incident objectives in the context of both operational and
support activities. IAPs are developed for operational periods that are
usually 12 hours long.
IAPs depend on management by objectives to accomplish response tactics.
These objectives are communicated throughout the organization and are
- Develop and issue assignments, plans, procedures, and protocols.
- Direct efforts to attain the objectives in support of defined
Results are always documented and fed back into planning for the next
Integrated communications include:
- The "hardware" systems that transfer information.
- Planning for the use of all available communications frequencies and
- The procedures and processes for transferring information
internally and externally.
Effective accountability at all jurisdictional levels and within
individual functional areas during an incident is essential. To that
end, ICS requires:
- An orderly chain of command--the line of authority within the
ranks of the incident organization.
- Check-in for all responders, regardless of agency affiliation.
- Each individual involved in incident operations to be assigned only
In some situations, NIMS recommends variations in incident
management. Unified Command is an application of ICS that is used
- There is more than one responding agency within a jurisdiction.
- Incidents cross political jurisdictions.
Under a Unified Command, agencies work together through the
designated members of the command to analyze intelligence information
and establish a common set of objectives and strategies for a single
Incident Action Plan.
An Area Command is established to:
- Oversee the management of multiple incidents that are each being
managed by an ICS organization.
- Oversee the management of large incidents that cross jurisdictional
Area Commands are particularly relevant to public health
emergencies and other incidents that are nonsite specific, not
immediately identifiable, or are geographically dispersed and evolve
Area Command Responsibilities
Area Command has the responsibility for:
- Setting overall strategy and priorities.
- Allocating critical resources according to priorities.
- Ensuring that incidents are properly managed.
- Ensuring that objectives are met and strategies are followed.
An Area Command may become a Unified Area Command when incidents
are multijurisdictional or involve multiple agencies.
Multiagency Coordination Systems
Multiagency Coordination Systems are a combination of resources
that are integrated into a common framework for coordinating and
supporting domestic incident management activities.
The primary functions of Multiagency Coordination Systems are to:
- Support incident management policies and priorities.
- Facilitate logistics support and resource tracking.
- Make resource allocation decisions based on incident management
- Coordinate incident-related information.
- Coordinate interagency and intergovernmental issues regarding
incident management policies, priorities, and strategies.
Direct tactical and operational responsibility for the conduct of
incident management activities rests with the Incident Command.
Multiagency Coordination System Elements
Multiagency Coordination Systems include Emergency Operations
Centers (EOCs) and, in certain multijurisdictional or complex
incidents, Multiagency Coordination Entities.
Regardless of their form or structure, Multiagency Coordination
- Ensure that each involved agency is providing situation and
resource status information.
- Establish priorities between incidents and/or Area Commands.
- Acquire and allocate resources required by incident
- Coordinate and identify future resource requirements.
- Coordinate and resolve policy issues.
- Provide strategic coordination.
During emergencies, the public may receive information from a variety
of sources. The mechanism established by NIMS for ensuring that
information the public receives is accurate, coordinated, timely, and
easy to understand is through the use of a Public Information Officer
The PIO coordinates public information by establishing a Joint
Information Center (JIC). Using the JIC as a central location,
information can be coordinated and integrated across jurisdictions
and agencies and among all government partners, the private sector,
and nongovernmental agencies.
JICs have several characteristics in common:
- JICs include representatives of all players in managing the
response. This may include jurisdictions, agencies, private entities,
or nongovernmental organizations.
- JICs must have procedures and protocols for communicating and
coordinating effectively with other JICs, and with the appropriate
components of the ICS organization.
Preparedness involves the actions required to establish and sustain
prescribed levels of capability for a range of incident management
operations. Preparedness is implemented through a continual cycle of:
- Training and equipping.
- Evaluating and taking corrective or mitigating action.
NIMS focuses on guidelines, protocols, and standards necessary to
Preparedness organizations represent a wide variety of committees,
planning groups, and other organizations. These organizations meet
regularly to coordinate and focus preparedness activities.
Preparedness organizations should:
- Establish and coordinate emergency plans and protocols.
- Integrate and coordinate activities and jurisdictions within
- Establish standards, guidelines, and protocols to promote
interoperability among jurisdictions and agencies.
- Adopt standards, guidelines, and protocols for resource
- Establish priorities for resources and other response
- Establish and maintain mutiagency coordination mechanisms.
Preparedness plans describe how personnel, equipment, and other
resources will be used to support incident management requirements.
These plans represent the operational core of preparedness and
provide mechanisms for:
- Setting priorities.
- Integrating multiple entities and functions.
- Establishing collaborative relationships.
- Ensuring that communications and other systems support the
complete spectrum of incident management activities.
Types of Plans
- Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs) describe how the
jurisdiction will respond to emergencies.
- Procedures may include overviews, standard operating
procedures, field operations guides, job aids, or other critical
information needed for a response.
- Preparedness Plans, which describe how training needs will
be identified and met, how resources will be obtained through mutual
aid agreements, and the equipment required for the hazards faced by
- Corrective Action and Mitigation Plans include activities
required to implement procedures based on lessons learned from actual
incidents or training and exercises.
- Recovery Plans describe the actions to be taken to
facilitate longterm recovery.
Training and Exercise
Organizations and personnel at all
governmental levels and the private sector must be trained to
improve all-hazard incident management capability. These
organizations and personnel must also participate in realistic
exercises to improve integration and interoperability.
Training and Exercising and the NIMS Integration Center
To assist jurisdictions in meeting training and exercising goals,
the NIMS Integration Center will:
- Facilitate the development and dissemination of national standards,
guidelines, and protocols for incident management training.
- Facilitate the use of modeling and simulation in training and
- Define general training requirements and approve training courses
for all NIMS users, including instructor qualifications and course
- Review and approve, with the assistance of key stakeholders,
discipline-specific training requirements and courses.
Personnel Qualification and Certification
Under NIMS, preparedness is based on national standards for
qualification and certification of emergency response personnel.
Standards will help ensure that the participating agencies' and
organizations' field personnel possess the minimum knowledge,
skills, and experience necessary to perform activities safely and
A critical component of operational preparedness is that equipment
performs to certain standards, including the capability to be
interoperable with equipment used by other jurisdictions.
To facilitate national equipment certification, NIMS will:
- Facilitate the development and or publication of national
equipment standards, guidelines, and protocols.
- Review and approve lists of emergency responder equipment that
meet national requirements.
Mutual aid agreements and Emergency Management Assistance
Mutual aid agreements and Emergency Management Assistance Compacts
(EMACs) provide the means for one jurisdiction to provide resources
or other support to another jurisdiction during an incident. To
facilitate the timely delivery of assistance during incidents,
jurisdictions, including States, are encouraged to enter into mutual
aid agreements and EMACs.
NIMS will manage publications dealing with domestic incident
management and response through its Integration Center.
The NIMS Integration Center will manage a wide range of
publications--from qualification information and training courses
to computer programs and best practices.
Resource management involves four primary tasks:
- Establishing systems for describing, inventorying, requesting,
and tracking resources
- Activating those systems prior to, during, and after an incident
- Dispatching resources prior to, during, and after an incident
- Deactivating and recalling resources during or after an incident
NIMS Resource Management Concepts and Principles
Resource management under NIMS is based on:
- Providing a uniform method of identifying, acquiring, allocating,
and tracking resources
- Classifying kinds and types of resources required to support
- Using a credentialing system tied to uniform training and
- Incorporating resources contributed by private sector and
NIMS Resource Management Principles.
Five key principles underlie effective resource management:
- Advance planning: Preparedness organizations working
together before an incident to develop plans for managing and using
- Resource identification and ordering: Using standard
processes and methods to identify, order, mobilize, dispatch, and
- Resource categorization: Categorizing by size,
capacity, capability, skill, or other characteristics to make
resource ordering and dispatch more efficient
- Use of agreements: Developing preincident
agreements for and dispatch more efficient providing or requesting
- Effective management: Using validated practices to
perform key resource management task
Managing Resources Under NIMS
NIMS includes standard procedures, methods, and functions that
reflect functional considerations, geographic factors, and validated
- Identifying and typing resources.
- Certifying and credentialing personnel.
- Inventorying resources.
- Identifying resource requirements.
- Ordering and acquiring resources.
- Tracking and reporting resources.
- Mobilizing resources.
- Recovering resources.
Resource Management Standards, Procedures, and Methods
- Identifying and "typing" resources: Resource "typing"
involves categorizing resources by capability based on measurable
standards of capability and performance--for example, a 500- kilowatt
generator. Resource typing defines more precisely the resource
capabilities needed to meet specific requirements--and is designed
to be as simple as possible to facilitate frequent use and accuracy
in obtaining resources.
- Certification and credentialing: Certification and
credentialing of personnel help ensure that all personnel possess a
minimum level of training, experience, physical and mental fitness,
or capability for the position they are tasked to fill. NIMS also
ensures that training material is current.
- Inventorying resources: Resource managers use various
resource inventory systems to assess the availability of assets
provided by public, private, and volunteer organizations. And
resource managers identify, refine, and validate resource requirements
throughout an incident using a process to identify what and how much
is needed, where and when it is needed, and who will be receiving it.
Because resource requirements and availability change as an incident
evolves, all entities must coordinate closely beginning at the
earliest possible point in the incident.
- Resource ordering: Requests for items that
the Incident Commander cannot obtain locally must be submitted
through the EOC or Multiagency Coordination Entity using
standardized resource-ordering procedures.
- Resource tracking and mobilization: Resource tracking
and mobilization are directly linked. When resources arrive on the
scene, they must check in to start on-scene in-processing and validate
the order requirements. Managers should plan for demobilization at the
same time they begin the mobilization process. Early planning for
demobilization facilitates accountability and makes transportation
of resources as efficient as possible.
- Resource recovery: Resource recovery
involves the final disposition of all resources. During recovery,
resources are rehabilitated, replenished, disposed of, or
- Reimbursement: Reimbursement provides a mechanism
for funding critical needs that arise from incident-specific
activities. Processes and procedures must be in place to ensure
that resource providers are reimbursed in a timely manner.
The NIMS Integration Center will coordinate the development and
dissemination of each of these resource management standards,
processes, procedures, and functions.
Communications, Information Management, and Supporting
NIMS standards for communications, information management,
and supporting technology are based on:
- The necessity for a common operating picture that
is accessible across jurisdictions and agencies.
- The reality that common communications and data standards are
NIMS's Focus on Supporting Technology
NIMS will leverage science and technology to improve capabilities
at a lower cost. To accomplish this, NIMS will base its supporting
technology standards on:
- Interoperability and compatibility.
- Technology support.
- Technology standards.
- Broad-based requirements.
- Strategic planning and R&D.
Managing Communications and Information
NIMS communications and information systems enable the essential
functions needed to provide a common operating picture and Information
- Incident management communications.
- Information management.
- Interoperability standards.
The NIMS Integration Center will also develop a national database
for incident reports.