Policy Options to Address Crucial Communication Gaps in the Incident Command System
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The Incident Command System (ICS) resulted from the need for a new approach to the problem of managing wildfires in the early 1970s. The events of September 11, 2001, led to issuing of Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 5 requiring agencies to adopt ICS as their incident management system. However, in events of national significance since then, internal communications have not performed well, causing numerous response problems. In addition, public information systems have failed to meet the communitys expectations and keep the public informed about the size, scope, and impact of the emergency. Three models of possible solutions for addressing the problem were assessed. Model 1 consists of expanding the Communications Unit within the Logistics Section. Model 2 expands and clearly defines the duties, roles and responsibilities of the Public Information Officer. Model 3 merges all communications functions into one section directly under the Incident Commander. Metrics were designed around the management characteristics of the ICS and were assessed utilizing a defined scale. The research found that the creation of the Communication Section would provide the most benefits towards improving communications. However, that model may be difficult to implement due to resistance to strategic change.
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