ICS - or incident command system is a framework of people and positions used for controlling an incident. What is meat by an incident? This could be a fire, chemical spill or release, bomb threat, water shortage, electrical outage or presidential visit.

ICS was developed to meet the needs of multi-jurisdictional control of incidents, procedures to insure accountability, and communications with and between all responding agencies.

Private companies have determined that by using ICS, they will be in a good position, in the event of an incident, to have their emergency response organization mesh with any local, county, state or federal agency that would respond to an emergency at their site.

What Are the Job Titles and Responsibilities Under ICS?

In any incident, you must have someone in charge. Even if the incident is you falling down and cutting your finger. You get up and tell yourself to wash your finger and bandage it. You are in charge and that makes you the incident commander or IC for that incident.

As you go through more and more environmental and safety training - you will find that initials and acronyms are used. Sometimes it speeds communication and at other times keeps outsiders from understanding what the insiders know. It's similar to doctors talking medical talk to each other. ICS is different. It uses specific terms and specific abbreviations so all involved know their rolls and the chain of command.

Incident Commander (IC)

Regardless of how complex the incident, the only position that must be filled is the incident commander. And as the incident grows in size or complexity, any position not delegated by the IC is the IC's responsibility. For that reason, we need to talk about the responsibility of the IC, because everyone of us has the potential to handle that position.

The first responsibility of the IC is to assess the incident's priorities and they are in order:

  • Life safety

  • Stabilize the incident

  • Conserve property.

The first priority has to be life safety. This includes victims, rescuers, helpers and bystanders. No structure, vehicle or any other form of property is worth the risk of even one life. As we develop our incident command system, remember that this is a team effort. As the incident develops, gets bigger, more complex, more people are needed to help.

The second priority is to stabilize the incident. This means develop a strategy that minimizes the impact of the incident and prevents the situation from getting worse.

The third priority is to conserve property.

The second responsibility is goals, objectives and plans. As the IC, you are the Captain of the Ship or the President of the Company. Let's use the company president analogy for a few minutes. Your company is Emergency Response, Inc.

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