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Requirements for Effective Incident Management

Posted on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

Some of the greatest challenges in emergency management comes with the unpredictability of an ongoing situation and the shortfalls of systems, processes, and individuals.  Efforts to prepare for, manage, or mitigate risks are often unexecuted or shelved by constrained resources, profit margins, politics, or alternative goals. In order to minimize response challenges, potential situations have to be identified and preparedness initiatives must be prioritized, implemented, and exercised. When a solid preparedness foundation in place, incident management and response activities can be optimized, minimizing incident duration and associated costs.

Streamlined incident management systems and processes need to be established and tested by assigned individuals who, in an emergency scenario, will be relied upon to carry out assigned response tasks. Systems and processes should include a means to provide the following:

  • Initial response information, data, and statistics - Assigned employees should be able to intuitively obtain essential information to determine optimal responses.  This allows responders to provide swift and appropriate resolutions as established by designated response planning initiatives. The infrastructure of an intuitive, streamlined, and customizable system enables companies to implement site-specific processes while retaining company-wide response planning consistency. (A web-based, enterprise-wide response planning system can remove the uncertainties and challenges associated with managing multiple response plans, streamline the update process, and simplify plan reviews, ensuring a consistent path toward compliance and effective emergency response.)

  • Accurate reporting - To improve targeted response processes in an ongoing scenario, the incident commander or designated person-in-charge, needs the ability to measure current conditions and quantify appropriate processes. The process of providing and receiving current information and communicating necessary focused tasks is the essence of incident management.

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The ability to maintain transparent communication and a seamless exchange of information during the incident management process improves safety, reduces response costs, and improves continuity of operations. Real-time Incident Management Systems can be designed to expeditiously facilitate emergency management and coordinate responses through the use of interactive database-driven interfaces and real-time situational displays. Utilizing an instantaneous method of situational awareness provides a means to:

  • Determine the deployment of resources in order to prevent duplication of efforts

  • Integrate incident response plan contacts and assigned tasks

  • Aggregate data into a format that enables real-time analysis and decision making to ensure the most efficient and effective emergency response

  • Minimize miscommunications that can delay time sensitive responses

  • Document stakeholder and agency directives to be used as a reference or learning tool.

Even when state-of-the-art systems and best practice processes are in place, incident management will not be successful without a trained response team. Best practices have proven that individuals who demonstrate a clear understanding of their response role and responsibilities are better prepared to implement a precise, streamlined, and effective response.

The Incident Command System (ICS) command staff or incident management team is made up of management level personnel who are self-directed in support of the response effort. It is critical that the ICS assigned individuals are trained in their responsibilities and have demonstrated understanding through realistic exercises. In additional to the incident commander, the ICS supervisory personnel may include but is not limited to Safety Officer, Information Officer, Risk Management, Legal, Security, and Liaison Officer. (FEMA’s ICS Resource Center has full list of positions and checklists that may be applicable to your facilities.)

Individual responsibilities vary by role and the site-specific scenario. However, general supervisory responsibilities may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Initial response actions

  • Prioritize the health and safety of staff members through evacuation or shelter-in-place

  • If the situation demands, limit or restrict access to the incident scene and surrounding area

  • Determine or carry out directives regarding required personal protective equipment

  • Request medical assistance, if necessary

  • Identify representatives from each agency for associated responsibility, including communication links and location

  • Verify any substance released and obtain Safety Data Sheets, as necessary

  • If properly trained, identify and isolate source to minimize product loss and potential harm

  • Maintain records and individual logs, as necessary

  • Coordinate required response actions with Incident Commander and local responders

  • Communicate response actions to assigned specialized team members

  • Document all complaints and suspicious occurrences

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Tags: Incident Management