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Incident Command System

The Incident Command System (ICS) was created in response to a series of destructive wildfires in southern California in 1970. National, state, and local emergency responders required a tool to effectively provide command and control functions while coordinating the efforts of many individual agencies and departments working together to stabilize a disaster, while protecting life, property and the environment.

The Incident Command System is used by Emergency Responders across the nation as well as by our local governments and agencies. ICS is successful because it uses a common organizational structure with standardized management principles. The structure being used on campus and in the hospital is similar to the structure being used in the community by police, fire fighters, homeland security, and other rescue personnel. With ICS in effect, the campus and/or hospital and other organizations can communicate effectively and efficiently to solve problems and get the emergency under control. In fact, the United States Department of Homeland Security requires all organizations that receive federal funds become National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliant, which includes the incorporation of ICS.

The Incident Command System has evolved over the years, and has taken on a specific meaning for hospitals and health care systems in the form of the Hospital Incident Command System (HICS). While HICS provides a prescriptive model for implementation, hospitals have tailored the conventional methodology of the Incident Command System in most case to fit their specific needs.

HICS is employed at Upstate Medical University and Hospital to respond to emergency situations. When a disaster is declared, HICS is "activated" and an entire system of planning and operations is put into play. Chains of command and job descriptions (IC chart ppt) in the form of specific job action sheets developed by the Emergency Management Department provide everyone on the HICS team with the information they need and the procedures to follow to address the emergency situation at hand.