The Department of Homeland Security’s National Integration Center is responsible for managing the implementation and administration of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS is the consistent emergency management structure that has been adopted by countless companies to create a more effective, coordinated emergency response.
According to FEMA, NIMS provides “a consistent nationwide template to enable Federal, State, tribal, and local governments, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work together to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents, regardless of cause, size, or complexity, including acts of catastrophic terrorism.” Yet, when companies implement or utilize a basic template approach without consideration of site-specific details, the result is often an incomplete, ineffective, and non-regulatory compliant plan.
The goal, and typical result of NIMS, is a coordinated, faster, and more effective resolution. The National Integration Center (NIC) promotes this compatibility and NIMS compliance between the private corporate sector and its jurisdictional counterparts.
Effective Response Planning
Two contributors to effective preparedness comes from the site-specific information within the plans and a standardized response management process by which procedures are carried out. The two concepts, site-specific and standardization, may appear to contradict each other. However when merged properly, companies can strengthen preparedness initiatives and enable a flexible, effective, efficient, and all-hazards incident management response.
The NIC stresses standardization and credentialing to ensure the adoption of common national standards and systems that are compatible and aligned with the implementation of NIMS. The standards apply to the identification, implementation, and development of concepts and programs covering:
- Documentation and database systems related to qualification, certification, and credentialing of emergency management/response personnel and organizations.
- NIMS Training Requirements and exercises that enhance agencies’ and organizations’ knowledge, adoption, and implementation of NIMS.
- Publication management ensuring NIMS documents are consistent and accessible.
With properly trained employees, many emergency situations can be handled on-site without additional outside responders. However, if an emergency is beyond the scope of employee training, a unified incident management approach enables multiple entities to coordinate under one accepted management system.
Despite the efforts of the NIC to promote NIMS as the basis for emergency response, the 2012 National Preparedness Report identified a lack of understanding of specific roles and responsibilities. According to the report, emergency managers’ recovery roles and responsibilities were not always clearly defined, thereby confusing recovery progress. FEMA stresses continuous communication and collaborative efforts with responding jurisdictions in order to identify gaps. “Partners should identify gaps in achieving long-term recovery and report upon them to set recovery goals.”