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Six Common Response Team Roles for Facility Preparedness

Posted on Thu, Mar 23, 2017

Every company’s preparedness efforts and response plans are unique to the threats and hazards associated with their operations. As a result, each site should have unique response teams with site-specific and individually assigned responsibilities. The number of company personnel required to staff a response team will depend on the size and complexity of the facility, and the potential incidents that can occur.  A small facility may have one-person response team with a support structure to assist in the event of an unlikely larger incident, while a larger facility with varying threats and hazards may require multiple personnel.

Individuals chosen for a response team should be carefully selected. Selection should be based on authority level and experience, and capability to be trained for their appointed roles and responsibilities. The more knowledgeable individuals are of their response team roles and responsibilities, the better prepared the team can be to implement a streamlined response.

Individual responsibilities are associated to each unique role. Below are six common response team positions and coordinating responsibilities that may be necessary for your facility.

  1. Incident Commander (IC)
  • Activates selected members or all of the Emergency Response team
  • Activates additional response contractors and local resources
  • Evaluates the severity, potential Impact, safety concerns, and response requirements based on the initial information provided by the First Person On-Scene
  • Confirms safety aspects at site, including the need for personal protective equipment, sources of ignition, and potential need for evacuation
  • Communicates and provides incident briefings to company superiors, as appropriate
  • Coordinates/completes additional internal and external notifications
  • Communicates with Emergency Response Team, as the situation demands
  • Directs response and cleanup operations


  1. Public Information Officer
  • Communicates with the IC to determine if there are any limits on information releases
  • Develops material for use in media briefings
  • Obtains IC approval of media releases
  • Informs media and conduct media briefings
  • Arranges for tours and other interviews or briefings that may be required
  • Obtains media information that may be useful to incident planning
  • Maintains current information summaries and/or displays on the incident and provides information on the status of the incident to assigned personnel
  • Maintains Unit/Activity Log (ICS Form 214)


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  1. Security Officer
  • Establishes contacts with local law enforcement agencies, as required
  • Requests required personnel support to accomplish work assignments
  • Ensures that support personnel are qualified to manage security problems
  • Develops Security Plan for incident facilities
  • Adjusts Security Plan for varying personnel levels, equipment changes and releases
  • Coordinates security activities with appropriate incident personnel
  • Keeps the peace and settles disputes through coordination with appropriate representatives
  • Prevents theft and unauthorized access to property
  • Documents all complaints and suspicious occurrences
  • Maintains Unit/Activity Log (ICS 214a)


  1. Liaison Officer:
  • Coordinates activities of the response team and company with federal, state, and local officials.
  • Maintains a log of all contacts made with regulatory/governmental agencies. Records time/date of each call and names of agency personnel contacted
  • Identifies representatives from each agency, including communication links and locations
  • Participates in planning meetings. Provides applicable agency resource status information
  • Prepares “initial” written reports to agencies as required. Obtain approval from the Legal Officer and/or IC prior to submittal to agencies
  • Work with response team to arrange site tours and briefings for elected officials, if appropriate
  • Maintains Unit/Activity Log (ICS 214a)


  1. Safety or HSE Officer
  • Identifies and evaluates safety and health hazards that may impact both the response workers and the public and designates exclusion zone boundaries
  • Determines levels of personal protective equipment required
  • Coordinates with government and industry health and safety officials regarding public health concerns, including evacuations, limiting access, and closure
  • Develops the Incident Safety and Health Plan (ICS 206a)
  • Ensures site specific Safety and Health Plans are written and updated as necessary and are read by all responders working at the site
  • Ensures that all responders have adequate skills to safely perform assigned tasks, and that required levels of training are documented
  • Determines the scope of environmental monitoring necessary to ensure a safe cleanup
  • Manages the safety staff needed to continuously monitor and evaluate safety and facility conditions to prevent unsafe conditions
  • Provides and/or coordinates health and safety training and regular safety briefings.
  • Attends media briefings
  • Participates in cause and origin investigation activities, if warranted
  • Maintains Unit/Activity Log (ICS 214a)


  1. Legal Officer
  • Assists IC and local operations during and after response operations
  • Works with agency investigators in determining the cause, responsibility, and levels of liability, if any, in the incident
  • Provides advice on documentation of events
  • Works with the environmental manager during NRDA planning and investigations
  • Maintains Unit/Activity Log (ICS 214a)


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