The Incident Command System or ICS was introduced nearly 50 years ago as a way to mitigate confusion in emergency situations involving multiple responding units. Originally used by southern California fire services during fast moving wildfires, ICS has been used for many different scenarios that may exhaust the first responding unit on the scene, including a car accident needing and additional ambulance or help from a fire department with heavy equipment such as the Jaws of Life, an airplane crash with multiple victims, or a terrorist attack like the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 19, 1995; or the attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. The Incident Command System has changed quite a bit over the years, the system was eventually adapted to the National Interagency Incident Management System or NIIMS. Now, NIIMS is recognized and used by many local, state, and federal agencies to assist in communications during large emergency operations requiring multiple agencies.
In the 1970’s, Southern Californian Fire Services began working on a way to ease confusion and streamline operations during large scale emergency situations involving multiple responding units. Originally known as FIRE SCOPE or “FIrefighting REsources of Southern California Organized for Potential Emergencies”, the system was widely used as a means of directing the efforts of multiple fire agencies during a large scale wildfire. Over time, other agencies saw the benefits of having a smaller command structure to coordinate efforts at an emergency scene, so the basic premise of the system was eventually adopted by many services nationally. While each service may have tweaked the system as ne...
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... learned with the loss of life from an unspeakable event that no one could have thought to be prepared for. The Oklahoma City Bombing can be seen as prime example of a well-executed command structure, many of the issues that came from that incident were logistical and clerical during the aftermath. Some of the hardest lessons learned were from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 with nearly three thousand lives lost, ineffective communication among emergency personnel, and a complete lack of communication inside the buildings. These lessons have led to the implementation of the Incident Command System and the National Incident Management System which have revolutionized the way larger scale emergency events are approached by Emergency Services. These systems are not perfect, and most likely will never be, they will continue to be developed as we learn more.
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