Emergency Preparedness – Incident Command System


The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized management system used by emergency response agencies and organizations to coordinate and manage responses to incidents, events or emergencies of all types and sizes. Originally developed in the United States in the 1970s, ICS has since become widely adopted internationally for managing incidents, ranging from natural disasters to public health emergencies to industrial accidents. 

Complexities include:

Incidents can rapidly become complex, which require quick and effective response and control. The purpose of ICS is to help ensure the safety of responders and others by emphasizing span of control, unity of command, and chain of command. The efficient use of resources helps achieve the incident objectives in a systematic, controlled and scalable manner

Why is ICS useful?

ICS is very useful for a variety of reasons. Consider if your organization would benefit from an Emergency Response Plan that provides the following:

Standardized Structure:

ICS provides a standardized organizational structure with clear roles, responsibilities, and reporting relationships for personnel involved in incident response. This common framework ensures consistency and interoperability across different agencies and jurisdictions, allowing for seamless coordination and collaboration during emergencies.


ICS is scalable and flexible, meaning it can be adapted to meet the needs of incidents of varying sizes and complexities. Whether it’s a small-scale incident or a large-scale disaster, ICS can be scaled up or down to effectively manage resources and response efforts. This is critically important to maintain the span of control and managing effectively.

Uses of ICS:

Clear Chain of Command:

ICS establishes a clear chain of command with designated Incident Commander(s) and positions such as Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration. This hierarchical structure helps maintain order and clarity during chaotic situations, ensuring that decisions are made efficiently and communicated effectively.

Effective Communication:

ICS emphasizes effective communication and information sharing among response personnel and agencies. Common, specific terminology and strict communication protocols are used to facilitate clear and concise communication, thereby reducing the risk of misunderstandings or errors.

Further Implementations of ICS:

Resource Management:

ICS provides a framework for resource management, including the identification, allocation, and tracking of personnel, equipment, and supplies. By systematically managing resources, ICS helps ensure that response efforts are well-coordinated and that resources are deployed where they are needed most and released once the objective is completed.

Unified Command:

In situations where multiple agencies or jurisdictions are involved, such as a municipality and a regulatory body, ICS allows for the establishment of a unified command structure, where decision-making authority is shared among participating agencies. This collaborative approach promotes coordination, cooperation, and a unified response to complex incidents.

Training and Familiarity:

Because ICS is widely used and standardized, emergency responders and organizations can undergo training and exercises to familiarize themselves with this important system. Training enhances preparedness and readiness, ensuring that personnel are capable of effectively implementing ICS principles and practices during real-world incidents.

Who should use it?

Any organization can benefit from ICS, no matter the size or scope of work.

Using an ICS System may be strongly recommended or even mandated through agencies. For example, The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) strongly supports using the Incident Command System to ensure consistent command, control, and communication among all parties during an incident.

Overall, the Incident Command System is an incredibly valuable tool for emergency management and response. The structured and systematic approach ICS provides to manage incidents ensures a coordinated, efficient, and effective response effort.


How can we help?

Our team of trained experts have extensive experience in Emergency Management and ICS applications.

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