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Why You Need the Incident Command System (ICS)

July 11, 2013 - Kestrel Management

After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the President and Congress agreed to implement the National Interagency Management System (NIMS). Federal, state, and local governments all are mandated to follow NIMS and use the Incident Command System (ICS)–a nationally recognized process of leadership and management of incident response–for all emergency response situations.

Private sector companies also are encouraged to use the components of NIMS when they have an incident on their properties to manage responses that involve government responders.

ICS and the Private Sector

Companies of all sizes have begun to implement the components of NIMS and ICS to manage their incidents. This is especially the case for those sectors considered to be critical infrastructure, such as railroads, gas and electric utilities, and healthcare. Furthermore, the hazardous materials industry is required under OSHA SARA 1910.120 to use the ICS in the management of their incidents.

Kestrel Management’s experience with private sector clients who interface with public emergency response and management agencies has revealed excellent potential to apply the ICS to their companies–and many benefits associated with doing so.

Effectively Managing Risks

Effective application of the ICS can be instrumental in managing company risks and events and strengthening business continuity:

  • Prepares the team to handle an emergency situation when it does happen
  • Allows private industry to effectively communicate with the local Incident Commander and emergency responders and participate in incident response efforts
  • Allows for a smooth transition from the emergency management Incident Commander to the company Incident Commander, who then works with the facility’s own team to restore business operations damaged by the incident and to restore services to customers as soon as possible
  • Aides the company team in working with their insurance company to capture costs incurred by an incident
  • Integrates with Emergency Response and Business Continuity Plans to achieve business sustainability and continuity
  • Provides an effective organizational structure for efficiently managing internal projects and events, such as merger and acquisition integration and operational expansion

Pending Presidential Directive

In February 2013, President Obama signed Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21), Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience. PPD-21 builds on the extensive work done to date to protect and enhance the resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure through the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP).

PPD-21 also aims to establish a more effective partnership with owners and operators and to align private sector critical infrastructure with the National Preparedness Goal and System required by Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8), which requires use of the ICS. Under this directive, implementing the ICS may soon become a requirement of doing business for many private sector companies.

The Department of Homeland Security was accepting comments to the updated NIPP, including elements of PPD-21, through July 8, 2013. Kestrel continues to track this issue.

Your Business Continuity & 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 ICS, serving as an Incident Commander, and instructing the complete ICS 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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