When an emergency occurs or there is a disruption to the business, organized teams will respond in accordance with established plans. Public emergency services may be called to assist. Contractors may be engaged and other resources may be needed. Inquiries from the news media, the community, employees and their families and local officials may overwhelm telephone lines.
How should a business manage all of these activities and resources? Businesses should have an incident management system (IMS).
The National Incident Management System (NIMS) was established by FEMA and includes the Incident Command System (ICS). NIMS is used as the standard for emergency management by all public agencies in the United States for both planned and emergency events.
When an incident occurs, incident stabilization activities (e.g. firefighting, damage assessment, property conservation) may be underway at the scene of the incident. Others assigned to support incident stabilization, business continuity or crisis communications activities will report to an emergency operations center (EOC). The emergency operations center is a physical or virtual location from which coordination and support of incident management activities is directed.
The Incident Command System and the use of an Emergency Operations Center supports incident management.
Incident Command System
ICS can be used by businesses to work together with public agencies during emergencies. Private sector businesses should be familiar with the fundamental concepts of incident command and should coordinate planning with local public emergencies services. The use of ICS within a business depends upon the size and complexity of the business. Functions and roles may be assigned to multiple individuals or a few persons may be assigned multiple responsibilities.
Emergency Operations Center
The emergency operations center should be activated whenever there is a major incident that causes significant property damage, potential or actual business disruption or has the potential to cause a significant impact on the business.
An emergency operations center (EOC) is a physical (e.g., a conference room) or virtual (e.g., telephone conference call) location designed to support emergency response, business continuity and crisis communications activities.
Staff meets at the EOC to manage preparations for an impending event or manage the response to an ongoing incident. By gathering the decision makers together and supplying them with the most current information, better decisions can be made.
A primary EOC should be established at the main business facility and a secondary EOC should be available at another company facility, a temporary facility (such as a hotel) or through a teleconference bridge established to bring staff together virtually.
- National Incident Management System and NIMS Resource Center - U. S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency
- ICS Resource Center - Incident Command System, Emergency Management Institute, Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System - NFPA 1561