Do you know what ICS stands for? Yes. The word ‘ICS’ stands for Incident Command System. The system was initiated and developed to overcome forest fires by the United States Forest Service (USFS). The ICS was adopted in 1970 by USFS through some refinements. It took 40 years to conceptualize starting in South California. It has been successfully implemented to address incidents, both in small scale and big incidents.

Picture: cdn.theatlantic.com

USFS has learned that during response some challenges occurred, such as lack of accountability, poor communication, lack of a planning process, overloaded commanders, and no method to integrate agency requirements. Regarding with the last point, we notice that the agencies have their own regulation. Therefore, the ICS accommodate how the joint teams work successfully without violating the rules of each agency.

It is admitted that within the United States that it took a long time before the ICS was adopted in the states. The catastrophe of 9/11 became a turning point in the importance of implementation of the ICS in response to any incidents. If only the local authority had used the ICS at early stage, perhaps casualties of responders could have been avoided.

The ICS is only a component of disaster management. The ICS is a standardized, on-scene, and all hazards incidents management concept. The ICS allows its users to adopt an integrated organizational structure to match the complexities and demands of single or multiple incidents without being hindered by jurisdictional boundaries.

There are three basic purposes of implementing the ICS as follow

  1. The safety of responders and others
  2. The achievement of tactical objectives
  3. The efficient use of resources.

In the United States, the ICS can be used to manage all types of incidents such as natural disasters, human and animal outbreaks, search and rescue missions, hazardous materials incidents, terrorist incidents, recovery operations, distribution of humanitarian assistance and even planned events (parades, sports events, and conferences).

forest fire
Picture: TNI

The main reasons that the ICS was adopted in all states because its benefits. The ICS meets the needs of incidents of any kind and size. It allows personnel from a variety of agencies to meld rapidly into a common management structure. Then, the ICS provides logistical and administrative support to operational staff and lastly that it is cost effective by avoiding duplication of efforts.

In the ICS, chain of command involves some positions. Chain of command refers to the orderly line of authority within the ranks of the incident management organization, i.e. incident commander, command staff and general staff. By using the chain of command, the ICS has to have incident objectives based on priorities, such as life safety, incident stabilization and property preservation.

planning P
Picture: FEMA

One of strengths is reliance on an incident action plan (IAP). The IAP itself is part of planning process or Planning ‘P.’ Meanwhile a doctrine for planning process is “Planning P is my friend.” Planning is an important process before addressing the incidents. Planning must take into account to some following factors, i.e. time criticality, unstable, changing situation, potential rapid expansion of incident and response, incomplete communications and information and lack of experience managing expanding incidents.

These factors require immediate organizing actions that must be taken to ensure effective incident management and control.

Until today, many countries like Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand have used the ICS to address incidents or disasters. Hopefully that Indonesia can also adopt the benefits of the ICS. And for sure that it can be used by every one. Remember that the ICS can be used for planned events as mention above.

Source: Basic/Intermediate Incident Command System Guide

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