I’ve been asked more than a few times recently “What do you do?” and I’ve had a hard time figuring out the best way to describe what I do. Most people don’t know what emergency management is or what it involves. So here are some things that I do… sort of a description of my work….
Emergency management is the science of managing complex systems and multidisciplinary personnel to address extreme events, across all hazards, and through the phases of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
These things are accomplished by using the Incident Command System. ICS is a fluid organizational structure in which people fill roles and responsibilities to over see the management of a major event. This allows for control over something that seemingly is out of control…. Controlled Chaos….
The Incident Command System refers to the combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure and designed to aid in the management of resources during incident response.
Core Concepts of Incident Command Structure
- Common terminology
- Integrated communications
- Modular organization
- Unified command structure
- Manageable span of control
- Consolidated action plans
- Comprehensive resource management
- Pre-designated incident facilities (command posts, etc.)
The incident command process describes an ordered sequence of actions that accomplishes the following:
- Activates the system and defines the incident response structure
- Establishes incident goals (where the system wants to be at the end of response; these are referred to as “control objectives”)
- Defines incident operational period objectives (measurable steps that contribute to reaching the goal) and strategies to meet the
- Adequately disseminates information, including the following, to achieve coordination throughout ICS:
– Response goals, objectives, and strategies
– Situation status reports
– Resource status updates
– Safety issues for responders
– Communication methods for responders
– Assignments with individual assignment objectives and operating parameters
- Evaluates strategies and tactics for effectiveness in achieving objectives and monitors ongoing circumstances
- Revises the objectives, strategies, and tactics as dictated by incident circumstances.
All of these things happen during a major event/emergency. All the other days of the week, I analyze hazards, write response plans to deal with those hazards, and test the plans using drills and exercises. I do loads and loads of research. I read interviews and articles about other major emergencies to learn from what others have done well or not so well. Lessons learned. I teach staff members about response actions and planning. I attend lots of training to keep up with my skills and to learn about new things impacting hazard analysis and response. I go to conferences, I watch the news all the time… I reach out to the community and develop a solid network of partners that I can call on when we are in need of resources.
For instance, right now I’m spending a great deal of time reading about the 11 hospitals who received patients from the Boston Marathon bombing event. I’m reading about all the hospitals in Dallas and Waco that received patients from the explosion in West. I’m reading about Hurricane Sandy’s impact on east coast hospitals… There are take-aways from all these events that will help me develop and implement better plans, training, and response actions.
And the best part? I get paid to do all of this! I love what I do.