Recent terrorism such as New York City in 9/11, London, Madrid, and Mumbai has substantially changed disaster planning in this country and throughout the world. Federal, state, and local governments as well as voluntary disaster relief organizations, the private sector, and international sources have organized a national disaster response framework for providing assistance following a major disaster or emergency. Within this framework, the federal government can provide personnel, equipment, supplies, facilities, and managerial, technical, and advisory services in support of state and local disaster assistance efforts. Various federal statutory authorities and policies establish the basis for providing these resources.
Us National Response Framework
The NRF is a scalable, flexible, and adaptable system to address a major disaster or emergency as defined under the Stafford Act (Table 4–2). This framework establishes a process and structure for the systematic, coordinated, and effective delivery of federal assistance to address the consequences of any major disaster or emergency in the United States. This includes a natural catastrophe; fire, flood, or explosion regardless of cause; or any other occasion or instance for which the President of the United States determines that federal assistance is needed to supplement state and local efforts and capabilities. Any reference to a disaster, major disaster, or emergency generally means a Presidentially declared major disaster or emergency under the Stafford Act. Under the Stafford Act, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from the Department of Homeland Security serves as the primary coordinating agency for disaster response and recovery activities. Initial tasks include notification, activation, mobilization, deployment, staffing, and facility setup. The NRF outlines the following:
- Lead agencies for each support function for planning and coordination of that support function;
- The array of federal response, recovery, and mitigation resources available to augment local and regional resources;
- The types of federal response assistance most likely to be needed in a specific disaster process;
- The methodology for implementing and managing specific incidents and subsequent federal mitigation programs and support/technical services;
- A focus for interagency and intergovernmental emergency preparedness, planning, training, exercising, coordination, and information exchange;
- The development of detailed supplemental plans and procedures to implement federal response and recovery activities rapidly and efficiently;
- The responses to the consequences of terrorism, in accordance with Presidential Decision Directives that set forth US counterterrorism policies.
Table 4–2. Emergency Support Functions (ESF) Outlined in the National Response Framework. |Favorite Table|Download (.pdf)
Table 4–2. Emergency Support Functions (ESF) Outlined in the National Response Framework.
|ESF 1: Transportation|
|ESF 2: Communications|
|ESF 3: Public Works and Engineering|
|ESF 4: Firefighting|
|ESF 5: Information and Planning|
|ESF 6: Mass Care (this may involve medical providers)|
|ESF 7: Resource Support|
|ESF 8: Health (this is usually medical providers)|
|ESF 9: Search and Rescue|
|ESF 10: Hazardous Materials|
|ESF 11: Food & Water|
|ESF 12: Energy|
|ESF 13: Military Support|
|ESF 14: Public Information|
|ESF 15: Volunteers & Donations|
|ESF 16: Law Enforcement|
|ESF 17: Animal Protection & Agriculture|
|ESF 18: Business Industry & Economic Stabilization|
The Department of Homeland Security processes a Governor's request for disaster assistance, coordinates federal operations under a disaster declaration, and appoints a Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) for each declared state. In continuing operations, the Department of Homeland Security provides support for logistics management; communications and information technology; financial management; community relations, congressional affairs, public information, and other outreach; and information collection, analysis, and dissemination (Figure 4–3).
Disaster response coordination.
The Terrorism Incident Annex creates a unified response to a terrorism incident involving two or more of the following plans: the FRP, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Incident Contingency Plan, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health and Medical Services Support Plan for the Federal Response to Acts of Chemical/Biological Terrorism.
National Incident Management System
While the NRF delineates our nation's responsibilities for the responses to a disaster, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) establishes and defines a systematic approach to managing disasters from the national to local level. Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-5, Management of Domestic Incidents, directed the development and administration of the NIMS. The intent is for NIMS to be flexible for any disaster, yet standardized in organization and function regardless of the breadth of the disaster. Inherent to the need for flexibility, there is ongoing refinement of NIMS to incorporate best practices and lessons learned from recent incidents. The current focus is on eliminating redundancy, defining the dichotomy between NIMS and the ICS, expansion of the planning, training of communities, and coordination of mutual aid. In addition, the roles of the private sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGO), and elected and appointed officials have been further defined.
The NIMS components include preparedness, communications and information management, and resource management. The NIMS and the NRF predicate that all incidents should typically be managed at the local level first. Implicit to this premise is that communities adequately prepare by activities conducted on an ongoing basis in advance of any potential disaster. Preparedness involves a unified approach. Development of multidisciplinary city, county, and statewide councils of representatives from emergency operations, fire, EMS, police, medical providers, and hospitals in turn standardizes protocols, engages in training exercises, determines supply and equipment needs, and evaluates and revises to develop best practices.
NIMS addresses issues concerning communication mismatch or the “Babel Effect” by requiring the development of emergency and incident communications and information systems that specifically require interoperability and redundancy.
Interagency resource management can be challenging as stockpiling supplies and pharmaceuticals may lead to overburdening of any of the involved entities. NIMS enables a process to acquire, mobilize, inventory, and reimburse supplies and equipment. It guides components critical to the acquisition and certification of equipment that will perform to certain standards.
NIMS mandates the use of national standards to ensure emergency personnel possess the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to execute incident management and emergency response. Many of these emergency supplies will be designated as “dual use” in order to maximize “in-place” supply levels and ensure that additional training for use of this equipment is ongoing.
The NIMS components provide a framework to facilitate effective management during incident response. The ICS provides standardization of the broad spectrum of activities and organizations providing emergency management during an incident response. Local emergency management personnel within a single jurisdiction manage most incidents. Incidents that rapidly expand geographically or technically may require significant resources and operational support that are not available or where local resources will be rapidly consumed early in the disaster cycle. A single incident that covers a large geographic area will need to coordinate multiple local emergency incident and management systems. ICS provides a flexible mechanism for management of incidents where additional resources are required to complex incidents with national implications.
Acts of biologic, chemical, radiological, and nuclear terrorism may present unique challenges for the traditional ICS structure. Incidents that are not site specific, are geographically dispersed, or evolve over longer periods of time will require extraordinary coordination among all participants, including federal, state, tribal, and local governments, as well as NGOs and the private sector.
The ICS is based on 14 proven management principles that contribute to the strength and efficiency of the overall system.
The ICS terminology allows diverse incident management and support organizations to work together across a wide variety of incident command and management scenarios. There exists a uniform terminology as it relates to the naming of functional units that operate under ICS since common names for emergency resources including personnel, facilities, and major equipment and supply items enhance interoperability.
The ICS organizational structure develops in a modular fashion based on the size, complexity, and the unique hazard created by the incident. As the disaster becomes more complex or expands geographically, the organization expands from the top down as functional responsibilities are delegated.
The ICS management objectives are communicated throughout the entire ICS organization and include specific and measurable procedures for accomplishment of incident management milestones during a disaster.
Every incident must have an action plan. An Incident Action Plan (IAP) provides means of communicating the overall incident objectives. The format is based on the requirements of the incident and the decision of the IC or Unified Command (UC). Initially, a formal IAP does not capture response operations but relies on the experience and direction of the IC. In the event an incident is projected to extend beyond one operational period, becomes more complex, or involves a UC, preparing a written IAP will become inherent to maintaining effective and safe operations.
Manageable Span of Control
Span of control is defined as the number of subordinates a manager can safely and effectively manage in a stressful situation, and has been clearly delineated by the military under combat stresses. Span of control is the key to adequately supervise and control subordinates, to supply and equipment management, or to maintain the functionality of designated facilities from the IC or UC. The type of incident and distances between personnel and resources are just some of the factors that will influence span-of-control considerations.
Incident Facilities and Locations
Operational support facilities are established at various points from incident. The IC will direct the identification and location of facilities based on the requirements of the situation and nature of disaster. Designated facilities include incident command posts, bases, camps, staging areas, mass casualty triage areas, and point-of-distribution sites.
Comprehensive Resource Management
An accurate, real-time inventory of the supply chain and resources is a critical component to managing personnel, strike teams, equipment, supplies, and facilities available for assignment or allocation.
Incident communications are facilitated by linking the operational and support units of the ICS. Communication equipment, systems, and protocols should follow ICS Form 205 to achieve integrated voice and data communications.
Establishment and Transfer of Command
The command function must be clearly established from the beginning of incident operations. Command requirements at the incident may be ongoing several hours or even days into an event. The agency with primary jurisdictional authority over the incident designates the individual at the scene responsible for establishing command. In complex events there may not be an apparent primary authority and the designation of the IC may be brought about by extensive deliberations and negotiations in a process termed Joint Command. Command is transferred from individual to individual by a process that includes a briefing that captures all essential information for continuing safe and effective operations.
Chain of Command and Unity of Command
Chain of command is the orderly line of authority within the ranks of an organization. All individuals have a designated supervisor to whom they report at the scene of the incident. Incident managers must be able to direct the actions of all personnel under their supervision in unity and in succession of the chain of command.
UC allows agencies with different functional authorities and responsibilities to work together effectively without affecting individual agency authority and operations.
Accountability at all levels and within individual functional areas during incident operations is necessary to insure task success and completion. Completion of the milestones involved with incident action planning, command designation, unity of command, span of control, and resource tracking are the principles of accountability required for successful incident management.
Resources should respond only when tasked or when dispatched by an appropriate authority through established resource management systems. This decreases the problems of spontaneous deployment by avoiding overburdening the recipient agency and compounding accountability challenges to the local ICS.
Information and Intelligence Management
The key action items for the scene commander to implement on designation results from information obtained from all aspects of disaster cycle. Accurate information gathering can help with mitigation of the disaster events, including resource logistics, media handling, disbursement of civilian emergency information, and simultaneous disaster surveillance.