NIMS Lesson 8

I-700 Course Summary

Leson Overview

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 disciplines.

The intent of NIMS is to:

NIMS Concepts and Principles

NIMS provides a framework for interoperability and compatibility by balancing flexibility and standardization.

NIMS Components

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 include:

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 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 Features

ICS has several features that make it well suited to managing incidents. These features include:

Common Terminology

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 organization.

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.

Organizational Resources

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 recommended.

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.

Organizational Facilities

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:

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.

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 used to:

Results are always documented and fed back into planning for the next operational period.

Integrated Communications

Integrated communications include:


Effective accountability at all jurisdictional levels and within individual functional areas during an incident is essential. To that end, ICS requires:

Unified Command

In some situations, NIMS recommends variations in incident management. Unified Command is an application of ICS that is used when:

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.

Area Command

An Area Command is established to:

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 over time.

Area Command Responsibilities

Area Command has the responsibility for:

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:

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 Entities:

Public Information

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 (PIO).

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.

JIC Charactistics

JICs have several characteristics in common:


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:

NIMS focuses on guidelines, protocols, and standards necessary to facilitate preparedness.

Preparedness Organizations

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:

Preparedness Planning

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:

Types of Plans

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:

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 effectively.

Equipment Certification

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:

Mutual aid agreements and Emergency Management Assistance Compacts

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.

Publication Management

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

Resource management involves four primary tasks:

  1. Establishing systems for describing, inventorying, requesting, and tracking resources
  2. Activating those systems prior to, during, and after an incident
  3. Dispatching resources prior to, during, and after an incident
  4. Deactivating and recalling resources during or after an incident

NIMS Resource Management Concepts and Principles

Resource management under NIMS is based on:

NIMS Resource Management Principles.

Five key principles underlie effective resource management:

  1. Advance planning: Preparedness organizations working together before an incident to develop plans for managing and using resources
  2. Resource identification and ordering: Using standard processes and methods to identify, order, mobilize, dispatch, and track resources
  3. Resource categorization: Categorizing by size, capacity, capability, skill, or other characteristics to make resource ordering and dispatch more efficient
  4. Use of agreements: Developing preincident agreements for and dispatch more efficient providing or requesting resources
  5. 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 practices, including:

Resource Management Standards, Procedures, and Methods

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 Technology

NIMS standards for communications, information management, and supporting technology are based on:

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:

  1. Interoperability and compatibility.
  2. Technology support.
  3. Technology standards.
  4. Broad-based requirements.
  5. 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 interoperability for:

The NIMS Integration Center will also develop a national database for incident reports.

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