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NIMS version: March 1, 2004
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Chapter III
NIMS - Preparedness

A. Concepts and Principles

B. Achieving Preparedness

This chapter describes specific measures and capabilities that jurisdictions and agencies should develop and incorporate into an overall system to enhance operational preparedness for incident management on a steady-state basis in an all-hazards context.1 In developing, refining, and expanding preparedness programs and activities within their jurisdictions and organizations, incident management officials should leverage existing preparedness efforts and collaborative relationships to the greatest extent possible. rxnorth.com

1 The operational preparedness of our nation’s incident management capabilities is distinct from the preparedness of individual citizens and private industry. Public preparedness for domestic incidents is beyond the scope of the NIMS but is an important element of homeland security.



Under the NIMS, preparedness is based on the following core concepts and principles:

1. Levels of Capability.
Preparedness involves actions to establish and sustain prescribed levels of capability necessary to execute a full range of incident management operations.

Preparedness is implemented through a continuous cycle of planning, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking action to correct and mitigate. Within the NIMS, preparedness focuses on guidelines, protocols, and standards for planning, training, personnel qualification and certification, equipment certification, and publication management.

2. A Unified Approach.
Preparedness requires a unified approach. A major objective of preparedness efforts is to ensure mission integration and interoperability in response to emergent crises across functional and jurisdictional lines, as well as between public and private organizations.

3. NIMS Publications.
The NIMS provides or establishes processes for providing guidelines; protocols; standards for planning, training, qualifications and certification; and publication management. National-level preparedness standards related to the NIMS will be maintained and managed through a multijurisdictional, multidiscipline center, using a collaborative process. (See Chapter VII.)

4. Mitigation.
Mitigation activities are important elements of preparedness and provide a critical foundation across the incident management spectrum from prevention through response and recovery.

Examples of key mitigation activities include the following:

ongoing public education and outreach activities designed to reduce loss of life and destruction of property;

structural retrofitting to deter or lessen the effects of incidents and reduce loss of life, destruction of property, and effects on the environment;

code enforcement through such activities as zoning regulation, land management, and building codes; and

flood insurance and the buy-out of properties subjected to frequent flooding, etc.

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Individual Federal, State, local, and tribal jurisdictions are responsible for implementing the preparedness cycle in advance of an incident and appropriately including private- sector and nongovernmental organizations in such implementation. The NIMS provides the tools to ensure and enhance preparedness, as described in the sections that follow. These tools include preparedness organizations and preparedness programs that provide or establish processes for planning, training, and exercises; personnel qualification and certification; equipment certification; mutual aid; and publication management.

1. Preparedness Organizations.
Preparedness is the responsibility of individual jurisdictions; this responsibility includes coordinating various preparedness activities among all appropriate agencies within a jurisdiction, as well as across jurisdictions and with private organizations. This coordination is effected by mechanisms that range from individuals to small committees to large standing organizations. These mechanisms are referred to in this document as “preparedness organizations,” in that they serve as ongoing forums for coordinating preparedness activities in advance of an incident. Preparedness organizations represent a wide variety of committees, planning groups, and other organizations that meet regularly and coordinate with one another to ensure an appropriate focus on planning, training, equipping, and other preparedness requirements within a jurisdiction and/or across jurisdictions. The needs of the jurisdictions involved will dictate how frequently such organizations must conduct their business, as well as how they are structured. When preparedness activities routinely need to be accomplished across jurisdictions, preparedness organizations should be multijurisdictional.. Preparedness organization at all jurisdictional levels should:

establish and coordinate emergency plans and protocols including public communications and awareness;

integrate and coordinate the activities of the jurisdictions and functions within their purview;

establish the standards, guidelines, and protocols necessary to promote interoperability among member jurisdictions and agencies;

adopt standards, guidelines, and protocols for providing resources to requesting organizations, including protocols for incident support organizations;

set priorities for resources and other requirements; and

ensure the establishment and maintenance of multiagency coordination mechanisms, including EOCs, mutual-aid agreements, incident information systems, nongovernmental organization and private-sector outreach, public awareness and information systems, and mechanisms to deal with information and operations security.

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2. Preparedness Programs.
Individual jurisdictions establish programs that address the requirements for each step of the preparedness cycle (planning, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking action to correct and mitigate). These programs should adopt relevant NIMS standards, guidelines, processes, and protocols.

a. Preparedness Planning.
Plans describe how personnel, equipment, and other governmental and nongovernmental resources will be used to support incident management requirements. Plans represent the operational core of preparedness and provide mechanisms for setting priorities, integrating multiple entities and functions, establishing collaborative relationships, and ensuring that communications and other systems effectively support the complete spectrum of incident management activities. The following are the principal types of plans:

(1) Emergency Operations Plan (EOP).
Each jurisdiction develops an EOP that defines the scope of preparedness and incident management activities necessary for that jurisdiction. The EOP should also describe organizational structures, roles and responsibilities, policies, and protocols for providing emergency support. The EOP facilitates response and short-term recovery activities (which set the stage for successful long-term recovery). It should drive decisions on long-term prevention and mitigation efforts or risk-based preparedness measures directed at specific hazards. An EOP should be flexible enough for use in all emergencies. A complete EOP should describe the purpose of the plan, situation and assumptions, concept of operations, organization and assignment of responsibilities, administration and logistics, plan development and maintenance, and authorities and references. It should also contain functional annexes, hazard-specific appendices, and a glossary. EOPs should predesignate jurisdictional and/or functional area representatives to the IC or UC whenever possible to facilitate responsive and collaborative incident management. While the preparedness of the public is generally beyond the scope of the NIMS, EOPs should also include preincident and postincident public awareness, education, and communications plans and protocols.

(2) Procedures.
Each organization covered by the EOP should develop procedures that translate the tasking to that organization into specific action-oriented checklists for use during incident management operations, including how the organization will accomplish its assigned tasks. Procedures are documented and implemented with checklists; resource listings; maps, charts, and other pertinent data; mechanisms for notifying staff; processes for obtaining and using equipment, supplies, and vehicles; methods of obtaining mutual aid; mechanisms for reporting information to organizational work centers and EOCs; and communications operating instructions, including connectivity with private-sector and nongovernmental organizations. The development of procedures is required in accordance with the law for certain risk-based, hazard-specific programs. There are four standard levels of procedural documents:

Overview—a brief concept summary of an incident-related function, team, or capability

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) or Operations Manual—a complete reference document that details the procedures for performing a single function or a number of interdependent functions

Field Operations Guide (FOG) or Handbook—a durable pocket or desk guide that contains essential information required to perform specific assignments or functions.

Job Aid—a checklist or other aid that is useful in performing or training for a job.

(3) Preparedness Plans.
Preparedness plans describe the process and schedule for identifying and meeting training needs (based on expectations the EOP has outlined); the process and schedule for developing, conducting, and evaluating exercises and correcting identified deficiencies; arrangements for procuring or obtaining required incident management resources through mutual-aid mechanisms; and plans for facilities and equipment that can withstand the effects of hazards that the jurisdiction is more likely to face.

(4) Corrective Action and Mitigation Plans.
Corrective action plans are designed to implement procedures that are based on lessons learned from actual incidents or from training and exercises. Mitigation plans describe activities that can be taken prior to, during, or after an incident to reduce or eliminate risks to persons or property or to lessen the actual or potential effects or consequences of an incident.

(5) Recovery Plans.
Recovery plans describe actions beyond rapid damage assessment and those necessary to provide immediate life support for victims. Long-term recovery planning involves identifying strategic priorities for restoration, improvement, and growth.

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b. Training and Exercises.
Incident management organizations and personnel at all levels of government, and within the private-sector and nongovernmental organizations, must be appropriately trained to improve all-hazards incident management capability nationwide. Incident management organizations and personnel must also participate in realistic exercises—including multidisciplinary and multijurisdictional events and private-sector and nongovernmental organization interaction—to improve integration and interoperability. Training involving standard courses on incident command and management, incident management structure, operational coordination processes and systems—together with courses focused on discipline-specific and agency-specific subject-matter expertise—helps ensure that personnel at all jurisdictional levels and across disciplines can function effectively together during an incident.

To assist in this function, the NIMS Integration Center, as defined in Chapter VII, will:

Facilitate the development and dissemination of national standards, guidelines, and protocols for incident management training and exercises, including consideration of existing exercise and training programs at all jurisdictional levels.

Facilitate the use of modeling and simulation capabilities for training and exercise programs.

Facilitate the definition of general training requirements and approved training courses for all NIMS users. These requirements will be based on mission-to-task analysis. They will address critical elements of an effective national training system, including field-based training, specification of mission-essential tasks, and requirements for specialized instruction. They will also cover fundamental administrative matters, such as instructor qualifications and course completion documentation.

Review and approve (with the assistance of national professional organizations and with input from Federal, State, local, tribal, private-sector, and nongovernmental entities) discipline-specific requirements and training courses.

The training approach that has been developed for ICS serves as a model for course curricula and materials applicable to other components of the NIMS. ICS training is organized around four course levels: ICS-100, Introduction to ICS; ICS-200, Basic ICS; ICS-300, Intermediate ICS; and ICS-400 Advanced ICS. Course materials have been developed and shared by a number of Federal, State, local, tribal, and other specialized training providers in a nationally recognized effort. This allows use of a broad set of training providers and allows programs to be tailored to the specific circumstances that the Federal, State, local, and tribal levels face.

c. Personnel Qualification and Certification.
Under the NIMS, preparedness is based on national standards for the qualification and certification of emergency response personnel. Standards will help ensure that participating agencies and organizations field personnel who possess the minimum knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to execute incident management and emergency response activities safely and effectively. Standards typically include training, experience, credentialing, currency, and physical and medical fitness. Personnel that are certified for employment in support of an incident that transcends interstate jurisdictions through the Emergency Management Assistance Compacts System will be required to meet national qualification and certification standards. Federal, State, local, and tribal certifying agencies; professional organizations; and private organizations should credential personnel for their respective jurisdictions.

To enable this qualification and certification function at the national level, the
NIMS Integration Center, as defined in Chapter VII, will:

Facilitate the development and/or dissemination of national standards, guidelines, and protocols for qualification and certification.

Review and approve (with the assistance of national professional organizations and with input from Federal, State, local, tribal, private-sector, and nongovernmental entities) the discipline-specific requirements submitted by functionally oriented incident management organizations and associations.

Facilitate the establishment of a data maintenance system to provide incident managers with the detailed qualification, experience, and training information needed to credential personnel for prescribed incident management positions.

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d. Equipment Certification.
Incident management and emergency responder organizations at all levels rely on various types of equipment to perform mission essential tasks. A critical component of operational preparedness is the acquisition of equipment that will perform to certain standards, including the capability to be interoperable with equipment used by other jurisdictions.

To enable national-level equipment certification, the NIMS Integration Center, as defined in Chapter VII, will:

In coordination with appropriate Federal agencies, standards-making, certifying, and accrediting organizations and with appropriate State, local, tribal, private-sector, and nongovernmental organizations, facilitate the development and/or publication of national standards, guidelines, and protocols for equipment certification. This effort includes the incorporation of standards and certification programs already in use by incident management and emergency response organizations nationwide.

Review and approve (with the assistance of national professional organizations and with input from Federal, State, local, tribal, and private- sector and nongovernmental entities) lists of emergency responder equipment that meet national certification requirements.

e. Mutual-Aid Agreements.
Mutual-aid agreements are the means for one jurisdiction to provide resources, facilities, services, and other required support to another jurisdiction during an incident. Each jurisdiction should be party to a mutual-aid agreement (such as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact) with appropriate jurisdictions from which they expect to receive or to which they expect to provide assistance during an incident. This would normally include all neighboring or nearby jurisdictions, as well as relevant private-sector and nongovernmental organizations. States should participate in interstate compacts and look to establish intrastate agreements that encompass all local jurisdictions. Mutual-aid agreements are also needed with private organizations, such as the American Red Cross, to facilitate the timely delivery of private assistance at the appropriate jurisdictional level during incidents.

At a minimum, mutual-aid agreements should include the following elements or provisions:

definitions of key terms used in the agreement;

roles and responsibilities of individual parties;

procedures for requesting and providing assistance;
procedures, authorities, and rules for payment, reimbursement, and allocation of costs;
notification procedures;
protocols for interoperable communications;
relationships with other agreements among jurisdictions;
workers compensation;
treatment of liability and immunity;
recognition of qualifications and certifications; and
sharing agreements, as required.

Authorized officials from each of the participating jurisdictions will collectively approve all mutual-aid agreements.

f. Publication Management.
Publication management for the NIMS includes development of naming and numbering conventions; review and certification of publications; methods for publications control; identification of sources and suppliers for publications and related services; and management of publication distribution.

NIMS publication management includes the following types of products:

qualifications information;

training course and exercise information;

task books;
ICS training and forms;
other necessary forms;
job aids;
computer programs;
audio and video resources;
templates; and
“best practices.”

To enable national-level publication management, the NIMS Integration Center, as defined in Chapter VII, will:

Facilitate the development, publication, and dissemination of national standards, guidelines, and protocols for a NIMS publication management system.

Facilitate the development of general publications for all NIMS users as well as their issuance via the NIMS publication management system.

Review and approve (with the assistance of appropriate national professional standards-making, certifying, and accrediting organizations, and with input from Federal, State, local, tribal government and private- sector and nongovernmental organizations) the discipline-specific publication management requirements and training courses submitted by professional organizations and associations.



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