The Incident Command System (ICS) was introduced in the emergency management community to manage large-scale disasters that impact communities. Since that time, it has been adapted for use by a wide variety of organizations. The system was initially adapted for use in hospitals in the late 1980s and serves as an important emergency management foundation.
There is a misconception that ICS is only used as a tool to manage disaster situations that impact organizations or communities. In actuality, ICS is a management tool that can be used to manage any event regardless of size and scope. Specifically, ICS is used for daily operational disruptions and preplanned events.
Benefits of Using the Incident Command System
While ICS is used to manage natural disasters such as earthquakes, fire or floods, it can also be used to respond to internal emergencies such as utility failure, computer system downtime, child abduction/missing person or workplace violence. ICS is scalable, which allows the user to include as many or as few positions as needed to manage any event.
Other benefits of using ICS to manage every day disruptions include:
- Provides a consistent, organized and predictable approach to management of the event
- Serves as a system and approach that hospital leaders and staff are trained and familiarized
- Provides easier communication and integration with community agencies like law enforcement and fire department who use the same tools and language
- Maintains and provides rapid order to chaos
- Provides a mechanism for enhanced accountability and safety
- Provides a means of addressing or potentially preventing the event from escalating
- Reinforces training and familiarization with increased use
Incident command is more than an organizational chart. It is a tool set that provides a pre-established, planned management structure for managing any operational disruption. As a tool set that has a long history of successful use in managing all types and scale of disasters, ICS is an invaluable asset.
As organizations throughout the world continue to invest time and valuable resources to ensure adequate emergency plans are in place and personnel are sufficiently trained to respond, it has become more and more apparent that ICS should be utilized for all disruptions, not just for disasters.