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NIMS / ICS Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are your NIMS / ICS courses officially recognized?
A: Yes, Training Solutions International has been approved by the State Training Coordinator with the Oregon Department of Emergency Management (ODEM) to deliver NIMS / ICS courses using qualified instructors.  All courses are taught to the standards established by FEMA and ODEM; and must be approved by ODEM.  Upon completing the course, completion certificates will be issued to students by ODEM.

Q: What is the difference between the online and classroom version of an ICS course?
A: The classroom versions are much more in-depth than the online courses.  Students learn more and have better retention from classroom courses.  For this reason the classroom courses are recommended for anyone wanting to eventually move into upper level ICS courses, as well as anyone looking to gain a mastery of the Incident Command System.

Q: I want to eventually take upper level ICS courses, do I have to take the classroom version of the lower level courses?
A: Although it is highly recommended that you take the classroom version because it will better prepared you for the upper level courses, it is not required.  Right now all of the lower level ICS courses, both classroom and online versions, are interchangeable.

Q: Are all ICS courses available in both classroom and online formats?
A: Yes, but only the lower level courses come in a self study format.  All upper level courses (like ICS 300, 400, etc.) can be done online, but are taught by a live instructor.

Q: Who should take NIMS and ICS training?
A: Everyone involved in emergency management (to include emergency operation center personnel in support of the field), regardless of discipline or level of government, should take the NIMS baseline curriculum courses (Independent Study-700 and ICS-100). Incident command occurs in the field; therefore, the NIC recommends that only individuals with a command and general staff role take advanced ICS courses. Fulfilling the training associated with this plan helps emergency management organizations, departments and agencies to develop preparedness capabilities for effective and efficient incident management. As a result, trained emergency responders are available as mutual aid to support incident management in other jurisdictions, if requested. The NIMS Training Program should sustain a personnel qualification system that is coordinated, maintained and meets the needs of the emergency management community.

Q: Which courses are recommended for elected and appointed officials?
A: Elected and appointed officials should have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities for successful emergency management and incident response. To that end, it is vital that elected and appointed officials understand and receive NIMS training. Therefore, FEMA recommends the following training for senior elected and appointed officials:

  • G-402 Incident Command System (ICS) Overview for Executives/Senior Officials
  • G-191 Incident Command System/Emergency Operations Center Interface
  • Additional training based on jurisdiction risk and/or specific interest

Q.  What is the National Incident Management System (NIMS)?
A: NIMS guides all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations (NGO), and the private sector to work together to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from incidents. NIMS provides stakeholders across the whole community with the shared vocabulary, systems, and processes to successfully deliver the capabilities described in the National Preparedness System. NIMS is:

  • A comprehensive, nationwide, systematic approach to incident management, including the command and coordination of incidents, resource management, and information management
  • A set of concepts and principles for all threats, hazards, and events across all mission areas (Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, Recovery)
  • Scalable, flexible, and adaptable; used for all incidents, from day-to-day to large-scale
  • Standard resource management procedures that enable coordination among different jurisdictions or organizations
  • Essential principles for communications and information management

NIMS defines operational systems, including the Incident Command System (ICS), Emergency Operations Center (EOC) structures, and Multiagency Coordination Groups (MAC Groups) that guide how personnel work together during incidents. NIMS applies to all incidents, from traffic accidents to major disasters.

Q.  Why do we need NIMS?
A:  Communities across the Nation experience a diverse set of threats, hazards, and events. The size, frequency, complexity, and scope of these incidents vary, but all involve a range of personnel and organizations to coordinate efforts to save lives, stabilize the incident, and protect property and the environment. Every day, jurisdictions and organizations work together to share resources, integrate tactics, and act collaboratively. Whether these organizations are nearby or are supporting each other from across the country, their success depends on a common, interoperable approach to sharing resources, coordinating and managing incidents, and communicating information. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) defines this comprehensive approach. 

Q.  What are the components of NIMS?
A:  NIMS components link together and work in unison to form a comprehensive incident management system.  NIMS components include:  

  • Fundamentals and Concepts
  • Resource Management
  • Command and Coordination
  • Incident Command System (ICS)
  • Emergency Operations Centers (EOC)
  • Multiagency Coordination Groups (MAC Groups)
  • Joint Information Systems
  • Communications and Information Management

Q.  To whom does NIMS apply?
A:  NIMS guides all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations (NGO), and the private sector to work together to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from incidents. NIMS provides stakeholders across the whole community with the shared vocabulary, systems, and processes to successfully deliver the capabilities described in the National Preparedness System.  The jurisdictions and organizations involved in managing incidents vary in their authorities, management structures, communication capabilities and protocols, and many other factors. NIMS provides a common framework to integrate these diverse capabilities and achieve common goals. The guidance contained in this document incorporates solutions developed over decades of experience by incident personnel across the Nation.

Q.  How does NIMS relate to the National Response Framework (NRF)?
A:  The NIMS and NRF are companion documents and are designed to improve the nation’s incident management and response capabilities.  While NIMS provides the template for the management of incidents regardless of size, scope or cause, the NRF provides the structure and mechanisms for national level policy of incident response.  Together, the NIMS and the NRF integrate the capabilities and resources of various governmental jurisdictions, incident management and emergency response disciplines, non-governmental organizations, and the private-sector into a cohesive, coordinated and seamless national framework for domestic incident response. 

Q.  How does NIMS relate to local incident command?
A:  A basic premise of NIMS is that all incidents begin and end locally.  NIMS does not take command away from state and local authorities.  NIMS simply provides the framework to enhance the ability of responders, including the private sector and NGOs, to work together more effectively.   The federal government supports state and local authorities when their resources are overwhelmed or anticipated to be overwhelmed. Federal departments and agencies respect the sovereignty and responsibilities of local, tribal, and state governments while rendering assistance.  The intention of the federal government in these situations is not to command the response, but rather to support the affected local, tribal, and/or state governments.

​Q.  What is the role of elected and appointed officials during an incident?
A:  Elected and appointed officials are responsible for ensuring the public safety and welfare of the people of that jurisdiction.  Specifically, these officials provide strategic guidance and resources during preparedness, response and recovery efforts.  Elected or appointed officials must have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities for successful emergency management and response.  At times, these roles may require providing direction and guidance to constituents during an incident but their day-to-day activities do not focus on emergency management and response.  Their awareness of NIMS is critical to ensuring cooperative response efforts and minimizing the incident impacts.

Q.  What is Interoperability?
A:  Interoperability allows emergency management/response personnel and their affiliated organizations to communicate within and across agencies and jurisdictions via voice, data or video-on-demand, in real-time, when needed, and when authorized – this includes equipment and the ability to communicate. If entities have physical communications systems that are able to directly communicate, those systems are considered to be interoperable. This can be a function of the actual system or the frequency on which the system operates.

Q.  What is Resource Management?
A: NIMS resource management guidance enables many organizational elements to collaborate and coordinate to systematically manage resources—personnel, teams, facilities, equipment and supplies. Most jurisdictions or organizations cannot own and maintain all the resources necessary to address all potential threats and hazards. Therefore, effective resource management includes leveraging each jurisdiction’s resources, engaging private sector resources, involving volunteer organizations, and encouraging further development of mutual aid agreements.
This component includes three sections:

  • Resource Management Preparedness,
  • Resource Management During an Incident
  • Mutual Aid

Q.  What is Command and Coordination?
A:  The Command and Coordination component of NIMS describes the systems, principles, and structures that provide a standard, national framework for incident management. Regardless of the size, complexity, or scope of the incident, effective command and coordination helps save lives and stabilize the situation. Incident command and coordination consists of four areas of responsiblity:

  • Tactical activities to apply resources on scene;
  • Incident support, typically conducted at Emergency Operation Centers (EOC), through operational and strategic coordination, resource acquisition, and information gathering, analysis, and sharing;
  • Policy guidance and senior-level decision making; and
  • Outreach and communication with the media and public to keep them informed about the incident.

Q.  What is the Incident Command System (ICS) designed to do?
A: The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized approach to the command, control, and coordination of on-scene incident management, providing a common hierarchy within which personnel from multiple organizations can be effective.
ICS is the combination of procedures, personnel, facilities, equipment, and communications operating within a common organizational structure, designed to aid in the management of on-scene resources during incidents. It is used for all kinds of incidents and is applicable to small, as well as large and complex, incidents, including planned events.  Using ICS for every incident helps hone and maintain skills needed to coordinate efforts effectively. ICS is used by all levels of government as well as by many NGOs and private sector organizations. ICS applies across disciplines and enables incident managers from different organizations to work together seamlessly. This system includes five major functional areas, staffed as needed, for a given incident: Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration.

Q.  What is an Emergency Operations Center (EOC)?
A:  Jurisdictions and organizations across the Nation use EOCs as important elements in their emergency management programs. EOCs are locations where staff from multiple agencies typically come together to address imminent threats and hazards and to provide coordinated support to incident command, on-scene personnel, and/or other EOCs. EOCs may be fixed locations, temporary facilities, or virtual structures with staff participating remotely.
The purpose, authorities, and composition of the teams that staff EOCs vary widely, but generally, the teams consolidate and exchange information, support decision making, coordinate resources, and communicate with personnel on scene and at other EOCs. EOC personnel may support staff at an ICP, field personnel not affiliated with an ICP (e.g., personnel conducting debris removal or managing a shelter), or staff in another EOC (e.g., staff in a state EOC communicating with staff in a local EOC).

Q. What is a Multiagency Coordination Group (MAC Group)?
A: MAC Groups, sometimes called policy groups, are part of the off-site incident management structure of NIMS. MAC Groups consist of representatives from stakeholder agencies or organizations. They are established and organized to make cooperative multiagency decisions. MAC Groups act as policy-level bodies during incidents, supporting resource prioritization and allocation, and enabling decision making among elected and appointed officials and those responsible for managing the incident (e.g., the Incident Commander). In some instances, EOC staff also carry out this activity.  MAC Groups typically consist of agency administrators, executives, or their designees. Organizations at any level (e.g., local, state, tribal, or Federal) or within any discipline (e.g., emergency management, public health, critical infrastructure, or private sector) may establish a MAC Group. In some jurisdictions, local law or policy may require a MAC Group to authorize additional resources and/or provide guidance to EOC staff and/or incident command.

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