From the moment an incident is discovered, the response process begins. Effective corporate preparedness campaigns and exercised response plans lay the procedural foundation of information gathering, initial assessment, response coordination, and documentation management. Short-term responses, small in scope and/or duration, can often be coordinated using only ICS Form 201 documentation, the Incident Briefing form. However, longer-term, more complex responses, will likely require use of the entire planning cycle, many of the ICS Forms, and multiple operational periods.
It is critical that companies test small and large scale incident responses to ensure employees are familiar with their roles, responsibilities, and the overall response process. Planning efforts also must identify incident priorities, align resources, and assure proper communications to ensure an effective and timely response. The standard response planning cycle is as follows:
The Response Process
1. Initial Response Actions, including notifications
2. Activation and staffing the Emergency Response Organization
3. Incident Planning/Documentation; Meeting Cycle includes:
- State incident objectives and policy issues.
- Identify the situation and subsequent critical and sensitive areas, weather/sea forecast, resource status/availability.
- Identify primary and alternative strategies to meet objectives.
- Specify tactics for each Division, note limitations.
- Specify resources needed by Divisions/Groups.
- Specify operations facilities and reporting locations (plot on map)
- Develop resources, support, and overhead order(s).
- Consider support issues and agree on plans: communications, safety, medical, security, etc.
- Incident Action Plan (IAP)
- Develop draft IAP
- Finalize, and approve IAP for next operational period.
- Operational briefings
4. Demobilization/Post Incident Review
In the event of a prolonged and a potentially multi-disciplinary response, Incident Commanders can utilize an IAP to develop updated and pertinent objectives, priorities, and strategies for each operational period. IAPs contain general tactics to achieve goals and objectives within the overall strategy, while providing important documented information on event and response parameters. Because incidents evolve, IAPs must be revised on a regular basis (at least once per operational period)
The following should be considered in an Incident Action Plan:
Operational Period Goals and Objectives:
- Must address any open agenda items from previous or initial operational period.
- Must be attainable given the people, equipment, and supplies available during that operations shift.
- Must be broad and flexible enough for the Incident Management Team to adapt to an evolving situation.
- Develop primary and alternative strategies, specific response methods, and pertinent procedures to achieve the goals and objectives.
- Establish priorities of tactics in order to accomplish goals and objectives.
- Prepare an ICS 215 to identify required resources.
- Identify primary roles, responsibilities and assign specific tasks
- Critical situational updates
- Detail resource status updates
- Equipment status updates
Depending on the specifics of the incident, the following ICS forms may be used to document operational details, objectives, priorities, or strategies for each operational period.
INCIDENT ACTION PLAN (IAP) COVER SHEET: Provides initial response information, signature approval, and table of contents of the IAP.
INCIDENT OBJECTIVES: ICS 202: Provides weather and tide information, as well as basic incident strategy, control objectives, and safety considerations.
ORGANIZATION ASSIGNMENT LIST: ICS 203: Provides information on the units activated, and the names of personnel staffing each position/unit.
ASSIGNMENT LIST: ICS 204: Identifies Division and Group assignments.
COMMUNICATIONS PLAN: ICS 205: Provides radio frequency assignments..
MEDICAL PLAN: ICS 206: Provides details on how medical services will be provided, including medical aid stations, transportation services, hospitals, and medical emergency procedures.
INCIDENT STATUS SUMMARY - ICS 209: Provides response status information. It is typically not included in within the IAP.