Home > BLOG 2, Crisis Communication > Blog 2: The role of communication in the ICS

Blog 2: The role of communication in the ICS

September 14, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

When dealing with a crisis the single most important thing is effective communication. No matter how big or small the crisis may be, effective communication can help speed up the crisis management so everything can return to normal. The Incident Command System is a system that is based on effective communication. According to FEMA’s website, the ICS is:

A standardized, on-scene, all-hazards incident management approach that:

  • Allows for the integration of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure.
  • Enables a coordinated response among various jurisdictions and functional agencies, both public and private.
  • Establishes common processes for planning and managing resources.
Possibly the most important part of the ICS is the use of communication. In order to make everything as simple as possible, one part of the ICS is that all communication should be done in plain English. Abbreviations, acronyms, and technical jargon can be terribly confusing when people from many different organizations are working together, so they are all eliminated.
Communication also plays a big role in the hierarchy of the ICS.
ICS Structure
As seen above, the ICS is set up so that there are many different branches. By having everyone organized in this way, the number of people that one person has to manage is decreased. In a big incident such as hurricane Katrina, it would be impossible for one Incident Commander to be in charge of hundreds of different people all at once. With such a large number of people reporting to him the communication would have been hectic at best, and nearly as many people would have been saved.
FEMA stated that the biggest reason crisis management failed in the past was due to poor management. By setting up the system the way they have, everything is focused on precise, effective communication, allowing for much more effective management. Whether it’s saving people’s lives from a wildfire or controlling a small flood, in the end it is the communication aspect of the ICS that lets it function in such an effective, result producing manner.
  1. September 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Good job. You provide a good summary of the communication issues in ICS. Your writing is good and so is the formatting of your post. Continue to challenge yourself in your posts by thinking about how your analysis can go even deeper. Are there communication issues that weren’t directly addressed in the ICS training that you thought of as you were doing the training? Is ICS missing anything related to communication?

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