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Incident Command System/Incident Management System Part I
By Fred Lovell, LT, John B Connally Jr Unit in Kennedy Texas
Published: 06/10/2013

Officer incident Incident Command System or ICS and Incident Management System or IMS are two very useful tools when dealing with emergencies. A lot of state government agencies have already made the switch to ICS or IMS which are both identical systems with different names. Before these management systems are in place in the correctional setting it seems like everyone would respond to a fight or an incident virtually leaving our duty posts abandoned. With the advent of the systems we’ve now been able to designate response teams and a protocol designed to handle any incident large or small. In our present system that can be as small as an inmate or officer passing out all the way through a full-blown riot with outside resources needed. In 2004 the federal government created the national incident management system or NIMS. This was created so that federal agencies state agencies and local emergency resources could communicate with each other and have a standardized response. In theory this is a great idea in practice however it is proved more challenging as each of the different states that adopted it have put their own modifications into the system. For example one state may request an A-team response while another state might call a type V response.

When you get into the command post mode of the incident management system you have five designated people that make up the command center. If you remember the acronym OPAL you’ll remember that this stands for Operations, Planning, Administration and Logistics. However if you’re using incident command system you’ll have the acronym OPALF which in this case stands for Operations, Planning, Administration, Logistics and Finance has been removed from administration and put in its own category. Also in the command center you have the staging area manager that keeps track of all of our resources and will help utilize them when needed. No matter which system is utilized in your facility there are still five tactical priorities that remain the same and must be utilized in order to properly resolve the system.
  1. You must Stabilize, Isolate and Contain the situation. This can be remembered with the acronym SIC.
  2. After you stabilize the situation you need to provide for the safety of the public the staff and finally the inmates. This can be remembered with the acronym SAW.
  3. Next you have to remove endangered persons and obtain medical treatment for the injured. This can simply be remembered as Medical.
  4. We must also conserve expenses and limit damage to institutional property as much as possible. This can simply be remembered as Property.
  5. Finally we wish to resolve the incident and return the unit to normal operations. This can be remembered with the acronym RINO which stands for Resolve Incident Normal Operations.

Finally the system is a wonderful system but unless we sit down and review what transpired it is hard for us to learn from the incident that occurred. At this point you would want to debrief the staff as well as the different departments and get their input on what works well as well as what needs improvement so that the facility as a whole can continue to move forward. In my next article we will discuss the three different command modes of the incident management system and incident command system and how best to utilize them as well as breaking down the responsibilities of the incident commander and anyone that may be designated to serve in a capacity within a command post.

Corrections.com author, Lieutenant Fred Lovell, is currently a shift Lieutenant for The Texas Department of Criminal Justice at the John B Connally Jr Unit in Kennedy Texas and has almost 10 years in corrections. Prior to working for the Great State of Texas he worked as a Correctional Officer and Sergeant in Arizona where he also taught at the ASPC Kingman Correctional Officer Training Academy.

Other articles by Lovell:


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