Blog 2: The Role of Communication in ICS
After 9/11 FEMA was incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security so that the federal government would have an easier job coordinating all of the different levels of local, state and federal resources and agencies in case an emergency ever struck. As one can see, communication is key if FEMA wishes to coordinate all of the different agencies involved in any sort of emergency. FEMA has to be able to communicate all of their plans efficiently and smoothly from the upper levels of the hierarchy all the way down to the public and vice versa. The role of communication in ICS (Incident Command System) is crucial for keeping an emergency contained and under control.
Simply put ICS is set up in a hierarchical pyramid with the head of the operation being at the top and gradually descending to the bottom. This system allows for messages and status updates to be relayed quickly from the command headquarters out into the field where the emergency is taking place. Everyone in ICS knows their job in their particular field and who their commanding officer is. If they feel a message needs to be relayed to the top all they have to do is speak to their boss who will then work his way quickly up the chain of command with the message. ICS is also set up so that messages can move laterally within the pyramid as well. For instance if someone in logistics needed to speak to someone in planning there is no barrier preventing them from doing it. Below is an example of what an ICS pyramid may look like on any given emergency.
Communication is the key to any successful emergency management. It can mean the difference between a minor incident and major catastrophe. ICS is set up so that messages can be relayed throughout the organization quickly and efficiently in order to deal with any change in any situation. ICS is also set up to have specialists who can deal with the media and public at large in order to give them news of the situation and hear their concerns as well. More information on ICS can be found at fema’s website.