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NPS Essentials: Incident Command System (ICS)

Overview

NPS emergency operations will be conducted using the Incident Command System of the National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS). The Unified Command System (within the Incident Command System) will be used when other agencies are involved. Each park superintendent will develop and maintain an emergency operations plan to ensure an effective response to all types of emergencies that can be reasonably anticipated.”  – 2006 NPS Management Policies

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a command and communication system for emergencies and events. It establishes a process and communication system to improve effectiveness, particularly when dealing with multiple agencies. Although the system is in a constant state of refinement, it has successfully streamlined a variety of tasks that have been adopted by many agencies and international organizations in order to respond to emergencies.

Each park unit should develop and maintain an emergency operations plan in order to ensure a quick and effective response to all types of emergencies that can be reasonably anticipated. The NPS often uses ICS in non-emergency situations as well; for example, ICS is used to manage large special events, including sporting events, concerts, and inaugurations.

Additionally, as stated in the NPS Management Policies, 2006, Chapter 8, emergency operations will be conducted using the Incident Command System of the National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS). When combined with NIIMS, the ICS includes:

  • EMS
  • LE
  • SAR
  • Fire Management

Reflection

  • Does your park have a current Emergency Operations Plan?
  • Have you completed basic training in ICS?
  • Have you clarified with your supervisor what your responsibilities are in an emergency?

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