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Why Real-Time Incident Management Systems are Now EXPECTED!

Posted on Thu, Aug 06, 2015

Text messages, Facetime, Skype, live-streaming, and email are just a few of the communications technologies that offer current Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) professionals and responders a unique advantage over their counterparts from years past. Because of the commonality of instantaneous access to communication and information, real-time technology should be incorporated into corporate Incident Management Systems (IMS). From the moment an incident is discovered, the response process of information gathering, assessments, response coordination, and documentation should not be halted by the communication barriers of the past.

The intent of an Incident Management Plan, which should be based on the Incident Command System (ICS), is to define, document, and provide tactical intelligence to those managing and responding to incidents. These plans should guide management, supervisors, employees and contract personnel as to their roles and necessary actions based on the current environment at the incident site. Timely, clear, and concise communication is pivotal. As a result, Incident Management Plans should incorporate:

  • Internal and external communication processes and procedures
  • Accurate contact information, highlighting the preferred method of communication
  • Methodology and protocols for two-way communication with all parties

A two-way information flow breakdown during the chaos of an incident commonly results in a diminished ability to quickly restore the site to “business as usual”. The IMS is the response communication tool that allows users to provide and receive current information enabling those with assigned response roles to carry out swift and appropriate resolutions. Compromised incident response communication often results in jeopardized safety, greater impacts, questionable company reputation, escalated costs, and diminished profits.

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. Systems with 24/7 web-based access to the incident site information are extremely beneficial to decision makers. With a real-time system in play, emergency managers, on-site responders, as well as approved stakeholders at any location, are more likely to stage an effective and timely response. Providing an instantaneous method of situational awareness provides a means to:

  1. Monitor site response status/scenario
  2. Prioritize the health and safety of staff members and responders based on current information
  3. Aggregate data into a format that enables real-time analysis and decision making
  4. Determine the status and effectiveness of response actions
  5. Modify response strategies, tactics, and objectives based on the information received
  6. Determine the deployment of resources in order to prevent duplication of efforts
  7. Integrate incident response plan contacts and assigned tasks, as necessary
  8. Minimize miscommunications that can delay time sensitive responses
  9. Document stakeholder and agency directives to be used as a reference or learning tool

Despite a real-time communication, best practice processes, and state-of-the-art systems, the incident response 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 in exercised scenarios are better prepared to implement a precise, streamlined, and effective response.

Individual incident management responsibilities vary by role and the site-specific scenario. However, the lack of procedural and incident status communication can lead to the mishandling and mismanagement of a response. Real-time communication can benefit general supervisory responsibilities which may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Initial response actions
  • 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

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Incident Management, Communication Plan