Week 8 – Future Challenges for ICS and NIMS

NIMS, ICS and the field of Emergency Management are continuously evolving.  We began the class by learning that ICS developed out of wildfire management efforts during the 1970’s.  We have seen during our discussions how NIMS came to be after the tragedy of 9-11-2001.  And it has grown and developed along the way.  As evidence we have Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.  As Emergency Managers we continue to meet the challenge and are better prepared than ever.  But the battle is never over, as there are newer and bigger incidents to handle.

You and I are the future of Emergency Management and NIMS.  Our efforts to improve our response capabilities will shape our nation’s ability to handle the worst that can be thrown in our direction.  This week we will finish up the course by looking at the NIC and the future of NIMS.  Please see the video below that discusses the National Response Framework (NRF).

National Response Framework

The National Response Framework (NRF) replaces the National Response Plan (NRP) and is a response template of federal, state, tribal, and local governments, along with NGOs in the private sector. The NRF complements the principles in NIMS, such as Unified Command (UC) and Incident Command System (ICS). The emergency response phases of preparedness, response, and recovery are addressed in the NRF document.

The key doctrine in the NRF includes engaged partnerships, tiered response, scalable/flexible operational capabilities, unity of effort through UC, and readiness to act. The NRF framework defines 15 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) and specifies a lead federal agency for each support function. The NRF includes key scenario sets and 15 national planning scenarios. The roles and responsibilities outlined in the framework begin at the individual and household levels and progress through local, tribal, state, and federal levels. Roles for NGOs and the private sector are also defined in the NRF.

The Future of NIMS

NIMS must be effectively integrated into the everyday operations of a jurisdiction and its agencies. NIMS implementation is a continuous and rewarding process because NIMS implementation provides communities with tools for preparedness, planning, interoperability, a COP, and effective integration with state and federal agencies.

The important steps of a successful NIMS implementation program are to:

  • Select lead implementation agencies.
  • Ensure buy-in from elected officials and chief executives.
  • Draft a formal plan with milestones and measurable end states.
  • Provide multilateral NIMS and ICS training.
  • Establish a multiagency preparedness organization.
  • Incorporate NIMS into daily activities.
  • Develop a proactive exercise program.
  • Budget for NIMS maintenance and implementation.
  • Use the NIC as an implementation tool.

Training is paramount when implementing a new and all-encompassing program such as NIMS. The NIC Incident Management Systems Integration Division has developed a NIMS Five-Year Training Plan. Preparedness organizations are responsible for essential components of NIMS implementation, such as planning, equipping, and training. NIMS programs should be continuously evaluated through an academically accepted program evaluation model.

NIMS Analysis

A SWOT analysis is based on assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of NIMS. The Human Performance Technology (HPT) model begins with an organizational and environmental analysis. Root causes in the NIMS program are identified, and interventions are implemented to narrow or close the program gaps.

There are five principles in high-reliability organizations (HROs) that should be continuously applied to all NIMS response agencies. The management and maintenance of NIMS is a continuous process. It is important for all NIMS response community partners to realize that NIMS development is continually changed and refined.

The National Integration Center (NIC) is the central national coordinating body that ensures incident response, management, recovery, and planning are efficient across all disciplines, jurisdictions, and agencies. The NIMS component of ongoing management and maintenance requires quality management through system-wide assessment and corrective actions that remedy identified deficiencies. Proposed changes to NIMS are submitted to the NIC.

The National Integration Center

The NIC is responsible for:

  • Developing a national program for NIMS education and awareness
  • Ensuring compatibility of standards, protocols, and guidelines
  • Developing and publishing national standards, guidelines, and protocols for the qualification and certification of emergency responders and incident management personnel
  • Establishing standards for the performance, compatibility, and interoperability of incident management and response equipment
  • Developing data standards for incident notification, situation reports, geospatial information, and communications
  • Establishing technical and technology standards for NIMS users


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