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Detailing the ICS/EOC Interaction

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Incident Command Structure & Emergency Operations Centers

While FEMA created the G191 ICS EOC interface course, what are the interface principles?

The incident command for most incidents does not go beyond a few groups and divisions, but what about the large-scale disaster? In a large-scale event, the incident command structure (ICS) will likely involve the planning and logistics section, and possibly the finance section.

The incident commander focuses on bringing the event to an end through completion of the incident objectives. When the full ICS organization is enacted -- including both the command staff and general staff -- the incident command could be a 7-to-1 span of control. 

While planning can develop an incident action plan (IAP) to continue the operation, coordination among agencies that often needs completed during a large-scale disaster is beyond the abilities of most command staff. Even if it were not beyond their ability, this coordination would reduce the focus on commanding the event to an end.

The Incident Commander is the Middle of an Hourglass

The incident commander will take direction from the multi-agency coordinating (MAC) group that sets policies for the municipalities and organizations involved. This can drive incident priorities.

The IC will send information from the logistics and planning section chiefs about the need to work together for planning and support of the information. Additionally, the finance section will need financial information from the MAC group and the MAC group will need finance section chief’s briefs about the financial status of the event.

The IC is at the intersection of command and coordination. 

While the ICS training manuals will show the command/coordination line above the IC, he or she is actually at the middle of the line with the greatest responsibility of making sure the information flow occurs up and down to satisfy the needs of the MAC and the sections. 

If you have an opportunity, I suggest taking the G191 course to learn more about the command/coordination that need to occur simultaneously.

Randall Hanifen Dr. Hanifen serves as a shift commander at a medium-sized suburban fire department in the northern part of the Cincinnati area. Randall is the CEO/principal consultant of an emergency services consulting firm, providing analysis and solutions related to organizational structuring of fire and EMS organizations. He is the chairperson and operations manager for a county technical rescue team. from a state and national perspective, he serves as a taskforce leader for one of FEMA's urban search and rescue teams, which responds to presidential declared disasters. From an academic standpoint, Randall has a bachelor’s degree in fire administration, a master’s degree in executive fire service leadership, and a doctoral degree in business administration with a specialization in homeland security. He is the associate author of “Disaster Planning and Control” (Penwell, 2009), which provides first responders with guidance through all types of disasters.