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Creating an Incident Action Plan

October 3, 2013 - Kestrel Management

What is an Incident Action Plan (IAP), as defined in the Incident Command System (ICS)? How is the IAP incorporated into a company’s existing Emergency Action and Response Plan?

In most cases, a company’s Emergency Action and Response Plan (which is part of the Business Continuity of Operations Plan) references a planned response that the company team follows to manage defined targeted events. The purpose of the IAP is to establish objectives (priorities), define response strategies and tactics, and to articulate what is to be accomplished within a defined period of time (i.e., operational period) to manage targeted incidents/events.

Generally speaking, personnel that will be implementing some of the IAP may have never been to the area where the event is occurring. These individuals often provide relief to the initial response personnel so work can continue in the future. The IAP briefs incoming personnel on their roles, assignments/responsibilities, and supervisor for the operational period so they understand what is expected of them to help meet incident goals and objectives.

The Planning Section

In smaller events, the Incident Commander is responsible for planning. He/she will follow what the company has established in its Emergency Action and Response Plan, which identifies those events that may necessitate a company response.

When the incident escalates beyond what the Emergency Action and Response Plan has identified as the initial response to the event, the Incident Commander establishes the company Incident Management Team, which includes a Planning Section. The Planning Section is then responsible for creating the IAP for the Team. The Incident Commander makes the final determination regarding which Incident Command System (ICS) forms, documents, and attachments will be included in the IAP.

Incident Action Plan Components

Even though the IAP is considered a “plan,” it is actually a consolidated document designed to provide guidance on how to manage the event/incident. The written IAP consists of a series of five to seven standard Incident Command System (ICS) forms and supporting documents that convey the Incident Commander’s intent for accomplishing the planned objectives for the defined operational period for the event or incident.

 The IAP is made up of the following sections:

  • IAP Cover Sheet: Provides a quick overview of the contents of the IAP and serves as a checklist to indicate which forms and supporting documentsIAP_Image are part of the IAP
  • Incident Objectives – ICS 202: Describes the basic strategy and objectives for use during each operational period
  • Organization – ICS 203: Provides information on the response organization and personnel staffing
  • Assignment List – ICS 204: Informs personnel of their assignments after the Incident Command/Unified Command approves the objectives for the event/incident
  • Incident Communications Plan – ICS 205: Provides information on the assignments for all radio/phone communications equipment for each operational period for the Command and General Staff functions down to the Division/Group level in the Operations Section
  • Medical Plan – ICS 206: Provides information on incident medical aid stations, transportation services, hospitals, and medical emergency procedures for the personnel working on the event/incident
  • Incident Organization Chart – ICS 207: Provides a chart depicting the ICS organization position assignments for the event/incident
  • Safety Messages, Maps, Forecasts (not ICS forms): Provides additional supporting guidance to personnel staffing the event/incident

Because incident parameters evolve, IAPs must be revised on a regular basis (at least once per operational period) to maintain consistent, up-to-date guidance across the Incident Command System.

Your Business Continuity & Incident Command System (ICS) Resource

Kestrel’s core team comprises senior consultants with extensive EHS, quality management, operational risk management, and emergency response experience. We add to that expertise an industry leader with hands-on experience developing and establishing the Incident Command System, serving as an Incident Commander, and instructing the complete Incident Command System training coursework.

Our team can help you develop the systems and plans you need to effectively manage your business risks–no matter the size or complexity. For more information, contact us at 608-226-0531.

Submitted by: Tom Kunes

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