from a presentation by Travis Waack

As a part of the Summer of Survival webinar series, Travis Waack shared the following information about leadership and organization during a disaster. These notes were taken during that talk and are supplemented by additional details from an ICS pdf from epa.gov.   Editor

Leadership during a catastrophe

Sometimes we have warnings of coming disasters, sometimes we don’t. Whenever they occur, the first noticeable problem is a lack of communication among the citizens of the area affected and among those involved in providing rescue and recovery. In a culture of preparedness, like our readers, we need to recognize the problems and develop ways to control the situation, not just crisis manage, for the benefit of our families and our communities.

Incident Command System

The Incident Command System (ICS) was developed following a series of California wildfires which caused millions in damage and the death of several people. Local, state and federal fire authorities collaborated to form FIRESCOPE (Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies. This group reviewed the wildfire responses and discovered that poor incident management was to blame, not a lack of resources. Major problems were associated with nonstandard terminology, nonstandard or integrated communication, lack of organizational flexibility, lack of consolidated action plans and lack of designated facilities. ICS was designed to overcome these problems. Following 9/11 this program was nationalized. Today, most major incidents demand so many resources and skills that one local, state, or federal agency couldn’t provide them. The Incident Command System provides a way for many agencies to work together smoothly under one management system.ICS pdf from epa.gov

 Leadership by emergency personnel

Any incident that requires action by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or property or locale damage can be managed by an ICS. It can operate regardless of jurisdictional boundaries and can grow or shrink to meet the needs of the incident. It is designed to develop work accountability and safety, improve communications, enforce a systematic planning process, fully integrate people and supplies, enhance communications to everyone involved and define the chain of command.

Leadership: Restoring Order

Leadership Support Groups

The Incident Commander depends on the information from four supporting groups to provide the necessary information to make final decisions. This command model may have two or more individuals serving as the commander who work as a team. A good commander is responsible for making sure all pieces of the structure are working together properly.

  •      The Operations section does the work; they are the boots on the ground doing the response to whatever the emergency may be. 
  •      The Planning section provides support information. They know what resources are available and collaborate with operations to write incident actions plans – which are objectives for the next day.
  •      The Logistics section procures materials and supplies; obtains and manages facilities; supports workers with food, lodging and medical care. They provide radio communications and IT support.    
  •      Finance & Administration is in charge of paying for supplies, processing compensation and tracking costs and statistics.  

     Each role can be adapted to meet the needs of a Prepper network. A deliberate process will be essential if a group is to be led during a catastrophic chaos. Consider this system for your community.

September 2014

Additional articles in the September 2014 newsletter include:

Growing your own food all year

Home Security Checklist

Emergency Preparedness for people with disabilities

Introducing the UV Paqlite

Solar Moroccan Style Meatballs from our Solar Chef

Be Disaster Aware

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