June 9, 2006
County Emergency Management Office Helping Local Agencies to Comply with NIMS
“NIMS” is the latest buzzword in the emergency response vocabulary for local governments, school districts, and emergency response agencies. NIMS stands for the National Incident Management System -- a directive issued by President Bush following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
For the past few years the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been working to develop NIMS, a giant emergency response plan for our nation. Its purpose is to provide a consistent approach to disaster response and improve coordination and cooperation between the public and private sector in a variety of domestic incidents.
NIMS will affect every local government, school district, hospital, and hundreds of citizens and emergency workers in Oswego County. It requires that local governments adopt a comprehensive emergency management plan, and that anyone and everyone working in emergency services and disaster response be trained to follow basic incident command systems. In addition, every local government body needs to officially adopt a resolution embracing NIMS.
Significant federal dollars are at stake, because eventually it will be very difficult for local governments to get many types of grants if they aren’t NIMS compliant. Oswego County, through its Emergency Management Office, is ahead of the curve because we’ve had emergency response plans in place for more than 20 years.
I have appointed Patricia Egan, Oswego County’s Emergency Management Director, to coordinate the NIMS compliance process in Oswego County. Pat is well known by local officials and the emergency services community. Her office has already helped many of the towns in Oswego County develop municipal emergency plans. Her staff works throughout the year with hundreds of citizens to plan and train for radiological emergencies, hazardous materials incidents, hazardous weather, and other types of emergencies.
As the NIMS point person, Pat is responsible for making sure that agencies are aware of the National Incident Management System, that training is available to all who need it, and that all the paperwork is turned in.
Emergency workers, government officials, school district administrators, and first responders across the county will need to show that they have successfully completed “Introduction to Incident Command System,” ICS-100, and “NIMS: An Introduction,” FEMA IS-700. Depending on their level of responsibility, fire chiefs and other local officials may need to take additional training.
The classes give an overview of the different types of command structures that can be used in a disaster. The NIMS system covers how to track personnel, equipment, and other resources; relay important information to the public; coordinate resources when several agencies are involved; and resolve policy issues.
Pat and her staff have met with local government leaders, fire officials, and first responders across the county to explain the NIMS requirements and compliance process. Her message is: “we’ll do all we can to help your agency become compliant, but don’t wait until August to get started!”NIMS training classes will be held around the county over the next few months. In addition, ICS-100 and FEMA IS-700 may be taken online at www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/index.shtm.
If you’re involved in an emergency response plan, either as a volunteer or through your job, you probably are required to take NIMS training. If you’re not sure, contact the head of your organization. For a schedule of NIMS classes in Oswego County, go to www.oswegocounty.com/emo, or call the Emergency Management Office at 591-9150. You’ll need to pre-register the week before your class begins.
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