DHS backs incident plan

Federal Emergency Management Agency

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Homeland Security Department officials have approved a standardized incident management plan that is expected to help federal, tribal, state and local agencies better coordinate emergency responses.

The National Incident Management System establishes a basic framework of organization, terminology, training and credentialing, identifying resources and interoperable communications and information management practices crucial when multiple first responders from different jurisdictions converge on major disasters.

Below are the core elements of NIMS:

* The Incident Command System establishes command, operations, planning, logistics and finance/administration as five functional areas in a standard incident management organization. Such a structure will help coordinate multiagency objectives, strategies, priorities and public communications.

* Standardized interoperable communications systems and information management allow responders to have a common picture of an incident response.

* Consistent preparedness includes planning, training, exercises, qualification and certification, equipment procurement and certification and publication management.

* A Joint Information System provides timely, unified and accurate incident information to the public.

* A NIMS Integration Center will provide strategic direction and oversight of NIMS. The center will also evaluate lessons learned; collect and disseminate best practices; and develop national standards for education and training, first responder communications and equipment, standardization of equipment maintenance, qualification and credentialing of emergency responders, and categorizing resources.

"I recognize the efforts of the dedicated professionals from state and local governments, law enforcement, the fire and emergency management communities, emergency medical services, tribal associations, public health, the private sector, public works, and nongovernmental organizations across America who teamed together in a collaborative effort to create NIMS," said DHS Secretary Tom Ridge in a prepared statement.

The administration has proposed $7 million in fiscal 2005 to develop and implement NIMS. Federal officials began developing NIMS following a Homeland Security Presidential Directive issued about one year ago.

Both the International Association of Emergency Managers and the National Emergency Management Association support NIMS.

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