Why Safety Management System Is Important
Purpose of Safety Management Systems – The main purpose of a safety management system is to provide a systematic approach to managing safety risks in operations. SMS also aims to improve safety by building on existing processes, demonstrating corporate due diligence, and reinforcing the overall safety culture.

What is a safety management system designed to accomplish?

Introduction – When you are in the beginning stage of developing and implementing a safety management system for your organization, communication is the key to success, as discussed in Chapter 3, “Analyzing and Using Your Network”, To get all employees involved, at all levels of the organization, the quality and depth of your network is crucial to ensuring that your messages get transmitted.

“Both the leadership team and employers will gain from a shared, collaborative effort and the system will be better as a result of everyone’s involvement.” ( Building an Effective Health and Safety Management System, 1989 ). A safety management system “is a term used to refer to a comprehensive business management system designed to manage safety elements in a workplace” ( Safety Management Systems, n.d.).

A basic safety management system’s main purpose is to accomplish the following elements: • To ensure everyone in the organization can recognize and understand real or potential hazards and associated risk. • To prevent or control operational hazards and associated risk.

  • To train employees at all levels of the organization so they can demonstrate the importance of correcting potential hazards they may be routinely exposed to as well as how to protect themselves and others.
  • The objective of this chapter is to discuss the basic elements recommended for a safety management system and why selecting and implementing a structured format benefits the organization’s safety culture.

After completing this chapter, you will be able to: • Discuss the common link between safety management systems. • Contrast leadership and employee involvement in a safety management system. • Discuss why defining the roles and responsibilities is critical to the safety management system.

• Discuss the importance of hazard and risk assessment, prevention, and control. • Discuss how you must interact with other departments regarding training. • Discuss why you should keep safety performance simple. • Discuss and provide your opinion on why a safety management system is important to the development of a safety culture.

Read full chapter URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123964960000057

What are the five major functions within the incident management system?

5 Functions Of A Well Designed Incident Command | American Trade Mark Co. First Responders should have five functional areas set up within their Incident Command Systems (ICS) to work together to respond to emergencies. Department assets used in response to incidents are organized under Command, Operations, Logistics, Planning, and Admin/Finance.

Command Operations Logistics Planning Admin/Finance

What are the major functions of the incident management system?

3.2 IMS functions – Ontario’s IMS is interoperable and closely aligned with other incident management systems around the world, including NIMS 3.0 (United States). At the site, Ontario’s IMS is fully interoperable with the Incident Command System ( ICS ) used by other communities and organizations.

Why is Incident Command System important?

1.3.2 Incident Command System – The ICS provides guidance for how to organize assets to respond to an incident (system description) and processes to manage the response through its successive stages (concept of operations). All response assets are organized into five functional areas: Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Administration/Finance. The ICS, as described in NIMS, refers to the combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure and designed to aid in the management of resources during incident response.

  • Common terminology – use of similar terms and definitions for resource descriptions, organizational functions, and incident facilities across disciplines.
  • Integrated communications – ability to send and receive information within an organization, as well as externally to other disciplines.
  • Modular organization – response resources are organized according to their responsibilities. Assets within each functional unit may be expanded or contracted based on the requirements of the event.
  • Unified command structure – multiple disciplines work through their designated managers to establish common objectives and strategies to prevent conflict or duplication of effort.
  • Manageable span of control – response organization is structured so that each supervisory level oversees an appropriate number of assets (varies based on size and complexity of the event) so it can maintain effective supervision.
  • Consolidated action plans – a single, formal documentation of incident goals, objectives, and strategies defined by unified incident command.
  • Comprehensive resource management – systems in place to describe, maintain, identify, request, and track resources.
  • Pre-designated incident facilities – assignment of locations where expected critical incident-related functions will occur.

For ICS to be effective, the incident must be formally defined so that there is clarity and consistency as to what is being managed. This may be best accomplished by defining the incident response through delineation of response goals and objectives, and by explaining response parameters through an Incident Action Plan (IAP)—the primary documentation that is produced by the incident action planning process.

  • Early in the response to the Pentagon on 9/11, incident command (headed by the Arlington County, VA, Fire Department) defined the incident as managing the fire suppression, building collapse, and the search and rescue activities at the Pentagon.
  • It did not include objectives for managing the disruption of traffic or other countywide ramifications of the plane crash.

Arlington County emergency management officials, therefore, quickly knew they had to manage these other problems through their Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which was geographically separate from, but closely coordinated with, incident command at the Pentagon. When an incident generates demands on the response system, the issues addressed first are usually demands created by the hazard itself—hazard-generated demands. For example, in a highly contagious disease outbreak, hazard-generated demands include the need to evaluate and treat victims, while controlling the spread of the disease.

Simultaneously, the response system itself creates response-generated demands. In the same example, these demands include the need to coordinate disparate resources, to process widely dispersed data into accurate epidemiological information, to coordinate the public message, and to protect healthcare workers.

Too often, the response community focuses on the hazard demands and neglects response demands until the latter create a significant impediment to overall response effectiveness. With well-developed ICS and emergency management support, the incident response proactively addresses both types of demands and, in fact, reduces many response-generated demands to routine status.


  1. Appendix A highlights several critical assumptions that were made in developing the MSCC Management System.
  2. Appendix B describes the basic ICS for public health and medical personnel.
  3. Many of these procedures increase the efficiency of preparedness activities, while essentially training participants on the procedures to be used during response and recovery. Examples include the use of emergency notification procedures for disseminating preparedness information, the use of a management- by- objective approach when planning preparedness tasks, and using tightly managed meetings with detailed agendas.
  4. A function is a key set of tasks that must be performed during incident response. They are grouped according to similarity of purpose but are not positions, per se, because each could entail multiple persons working to fulfill that function.
  5. Key components of an incident action plan are presented in Appendix C,

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What is the best reason to implement the Incident Command System?

Lesson 1: ICS Review: Introduction

In this lesson, you will review some basic components and principles of the Incident Command System (ICS). At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • List the principles of the ICS.
  • Identify components of ICS.

This lesson should take you about 10 minutes to complete.


The Incident Command System

  • The ICS, part of the Command and Management component of National Incident Management System (NIMS), is a standardized all-risk, all-hazards system for all kinds of planned or unplanned events.
  • NIMS (October 2017) is the Federally mandated, consistent nationwide template that enables government agencies at all levels (federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to “work together to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity.”
  • Thus, NIMS and the ICS model create a way for CERTs and professional responders to work together.


Why is ICS Important?

Why is ICS important for a CERT? In a disaster or major emergency, the ICS for on-scene management has three primary goals:

  1. Maintain the safety of all responders, which includes volunteers
  2. Provide clear leadership and organizational structure
  3. Improve the effectiveness of rescue efforts

When CERTs activate, they utilize and become part of the Incident Command System, whether as first to arrive at the scene or working at the direction of an incident commander from a first response organization (i.e., fire-rescue or police department).


ICS Central Principles

“NIMS provides stakeholders across the whole community with the shared vocabulary, systems, and processes to successfully deliver the capabilities described in the National Preparedness System.” The Incident Command System (ICS) adheres to the following principles:

  • Common Terminology
  • Well-Defined Management Structure
  • Manageable Span of Control
  • Comprehensive Resource Management
  • Integrated Communications
  • Consolidated Incident Action Plans
  • Accountability

To learn more about these characteristics/principles, refer to NIMS (Oct.2017), pages 20-23.


ICS Components

The ICS includes five components/functional areas that form the foundation for its incident management organization. These functional areas/components apply to all incidents, regardless of size and type or whether the event was planned or unplanned.

An optional component may be added as necessary:


Incident Command (IC)

Sets the incident objectives, strategies, and priorities, and has overall responsibility for the incident.



Conducts operations to reach the incident objectives (e.g., medical operations, search and rescue, traffic management). Establishes tactics and handles all operational resources.



Supports the incident action planning process by tracking resources and situation status, collecting/analyzing information, developing alternative strategies, and maintaining documentation.



Arranges for resources and needed services (e.g., provide communication equipment and food and medical supplies, and management of supplies and facilities) to support achievement of the incident objectives.


Finance & Administration

Handles contract negotiations and monitoring, timekeeping, cost analysis, and compensations for injury or damage to property.


Intelligence & Investigation

Can be established to collect, analyze, and disseminate incident-related information and intelligence for incidents requiring intensive intelligence gathering and investigative activity.


Benefits of ICS on Incident Management

The ICS has positively affected incident management efforts by:

  • Clarifying chain of command and supervision responsibilities to improve accountability.
  • Leveraging interoperable communications systems and plain language to improve communications.
  • Providing an orderly, systematic planning process.
  • Implementing a common, flexible, predesigned management structure.
  • Fostering cooperation between diverse disciplines and agencies.


Lesson 1:ICS Review: Lesson Summary

This lesson provided a brief review of the basic components and principles of the Incident Command System (ICS). You should now be able to:

  • Identify components of ICS
  • List the principles of ICS


Lesson 2:CERTs as Part of ICS: Introduction

In this lesson, you will learn about how a CERT is integrated into the ICS. At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  1. Identify CERT general operations within the ICS.
  2. Determine how to integrate CERT programs into the response framework for an area.

This lesson should take you about 35 minutes to complete.



  1. How and where CERTs are used within the ICS on a given incident and a CERT’s relationship with the local emergency management agency or sponsoring authority are matters of local preference.
  2. Neither FEMA nor this course takes a position on these questions.
  3. CERTs should develop an understanding on these matters with their sponsoring organizations in advance of any activation or incident.



No matter the location or incident, both CERT volunteers and professional emergency management personnel use a consistent ICS organizational structure. ICS is used by emergency responders across the country to manage emergency operations. When CERTs activate, they become part of that system.


CERT Organizational Framework

A government agency’s ICS is led by the Incident Commander (IC) who supervises several functional sections: Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Administration. Each functional area is led by a Section Chief. CERTS similarly organize with the same functional sections, with CERT Section Chiefs reporting to the CERT Team Leader (TL), who in turn reports on all CERT activities to the first fire or law enforcement personnel on the scene and/or to the IC if retained to continue response activities.



ICS Command Function Organization Chart



Org Chart for Incident Command

Org Chart: Incident Command. Under that – Operations Section Chief, Planning Section Chief, Logistics Section Chief, Finance/Administration Section Chief, Intelligence/Investigations Section Chief, Command Staff. Under Command Staff: Public Information Officer, Safety Officer, Liaison Officer.



Notice how a CERT is functionally organized like an ICS. The main difference is that the CERT is managed by a Team Leader (TL), while the ICS is managed by an IC.



CERT Function Organization Chart



CERT Function Organization Chart

Org Chart: Government Agency Liaison. Under that – Team Leader. Under Team Leader: Operation Sections Chief, Planning Section Chief, Logistics Section Chief, Administration Section Chief. Under Operation Sections Chief: Fire Suppression, Search and Rescue. Under Planning Section Chief: Documentation, Incident Status.


Leadership and Chain of Command

The CERT implements a clear leadership and organizational structure by developing a chain of command and roles that are known by all team volunteers. The chain of command and functional roles align with the ICS structure. Each CERT volunteer in a section reports only to his or her Section Chief. Each Section Chief has only one person that he or she takes direction from and responds to: the TL. The TL reports to the first fire or law enforcement official at their location and takes direction from that person until otherwise directed or until the CERT is relieved.


CERT Response

When are CERTs utilized? CERTs respond:

  • In the period immediately after a disaster when response resources are overwhelmed or delayed
  • When requested in accordance with standard operating procedures developed by the sponsoring organization to assist emergency response personnel
  • In planned, nonemergency settings (e.g., special events)

Remember: CERT volunteers are not trained to perform all of the functions or respond to the same degree as professional responders. A CERT is a bridge to professional responders until they arrive.


Emerald City Flood Scenario

It has been raining heavily for the past seven days in Emerald City. The Emerald City and Liberty County Emergency Management offices are preparing for a response to a possible flood situation. Residents are starting to ask questions about the rising river and lake levels and are wondering if they will need to leave their homes.


Emerald City Flood Scenario: Update 1

The rain has continued for three more days and the flooding is expected to reach its highest point today. The flooding has caused residents to evacuate their homes in anticipation of rising floodwaters. Basement flooding to the first-floor level is anticipated. The local Nursing Home is assessing the situation to determine if an evacuation of residents is necessary. The Liaison Officer, with the support of the Public Information Officer, is in contact with business owners to determine if any of their stored chemicals will be affected by the flooding, causing possible contamination downstream. Based upon previous floods, it is a high priority to establish shelters for evacuees early on. The Emergency Operation Plan preidentified the following shelters: Lawrence College Auditorium and Lafayette Middle School. Due to the complexity of the incident, the Incident Commander has expanded the Operations Section to include an Evacuation Group. The Evacuation Group Supervisor immediately contacts the Lawrence College President and the Lafayette Middle School Principal to begin the process of establishing shelters in those facilities. Scenario: Due to the complexity of the incident, the Incident Commander has expanded the Operations Section to include an Evacuation Group.


CERT Organization: The Staging Area

Upon scene arrival, the first team member on the scene becomes the TL. If multiple members arrive at the same time, the team members select a TL and an alternate and define the staging area/meeting location to be used during an incident response. CERT volunteers at the preestablished staging area will organize and receive tasking assignments from the TL. The TL may identify runners to serve as a communication link between the staging area and CERT volunteers working in the field. The staging area is the centralized contact point for the volunteers and for the fire department and other services to interact with the CERT. This centralized contact point simplifies communication of damage assessments and helps to effectively allocate volunteer resources.


CERT Organization and General Operations within ICS

The CERT TL directs team activities. While the first person on the scene assumes this duty, that person may hand off that role to a predesignated CERT TL when that person arrives. The TL organizes the CERT by first assigning section leaders to each of the functional sections: Logistics, Operations, Planning, Administration. These leaders report to the TL, supervise functional section tasks, and account for team volunteers. A manageable span of control is three to seven volunteers reporting to a designated leader.


CERT Functional Sections Tasks and Assignments

CERTs typically require the Operations, Planning, and Logistics functions. The CERT TL is responsible for handling or delegating each function. Select each CERT function to learn more.


Administration Section

  • Contract negotiation and monitoring
  • Timekeeping
  • Cost analysis
  • Compensation for injury or damage to property

Note: Administration and Finance is a function in the formal ICS; however, CERTs will have very limited involvement, if any, with this function.


Logistics Section

  • Provides communications
  • Provides food and medical support to team volunteers
  • Manages supplies and facilities


Planning Section

  • Collects and displays information
  • Collects and compiles documentation
  • Tracks resource status (e.g., number of CERT volunteers who have reported for duty)
  • Tracks situation status
  • Prepares the Team’s action plan
  • Develops alternative strategies
  • Provides documentation services


Operations Section

  • Directs and coordinates all incident tactical operations
  • Is typically one of the first functions to be assigned
  • Provides shelter support, crowd and traffic management, and evacuation
  • Supports medical operations
  • Participates in search and rescue operations
  • Manages traffic


CERT Team Leader

  • Determines an overall strategy (i.e., What can we do, and how will we do it?)
  • Deploys teams and resources (i.e., Who is going to do what?)
  • Documents actions and results
  • Provides overall leadership for incident response
  • Ensures incident safety
  • Establishes incident objectives
  • Is responsible for all functions until delegated
  • Delegates authority to others
  • Provides information to internal and external parties
  • Establishes and maintains liaison with other responders (e.g., fire, law enforcement, public works, other CERTs)
  • Takes direction from an agency official


CERT Organizational Flexibility

Just like the government agencies’ ICS, the CERT organizational framework is flexible. It can expand or contract depending on the ongoing assessment priorities determined by the CERT TL and the available people and resources. This expansion and contraction help ensure:

  • The CERT does the greatest good for the greatest number – Multiple teams can attend to/assist more people than one team.
  • A manageable span of control – Teams of 3-7 people are easy to manage.
  • Accountability of CERT volunteers – Volunteers sign in and out as well as steadily report in via their section chief.
  • Rescuer safety – Assigning volunteers in small groups ensures they adhere to the buddy system.


Expanded CERT Organization

As the incident expands, it may be necessary to assign other personnel in each section to handle specific aspects of the response while maintaining an effective span of control. Let’s look more closely at how the CERT framework expands and contracts. Your CERT has been assigned to check in evacuees at the shelter set up at the high school. The Operations Sections has a team of 5 people performing that assignment. The TL receives notice that volunteers are needed to knock on doors to ensure an assigned area is evacuated. After a status report from the Operations Section Chief, the TL assigns two of the shelter volunteers and another two volunteers to create a second operations team. Thus, the CERT has expanded from one operational team to two. When the CERT is relieved from one of these assignments, the CERT will revert to one operations team. CERT volunteers may be placed into a variety of assignments during an incident. Note: that volunteers will only be placed into situations that are suitable for their training and capabilities.



Example of expanded Operations into multiple teams



Example of expanded Operations into multiple teams

Org Chart: Operations Section Leader. Under that – Evacuation Leader, Search and Rescue Group Leader, Shelter Group Leader. Under Evacuation Leader: Area 1 Team A, Area 2 Team B, Area 3 Team C. Under Search and Rescue Group Leader: Warn Others Team A, Evacuate Team B, Evacuate Team C. Under Shelter Group Leader: Registration Team, Water Team.


ICS Structure as a Management Tool

Within a CERT, the ICS structure works as a management tool within a CERT. ICS structure:

  • Ensures the safety of responders, community members, and others
  • Ensures specific functional areas operate consistently
  • Ensures efficient use of resources
  • Ensures achievement of incident objectives
  • Promotes communication and information flow between the CERT and the IC
  • Allows for seamless transfer of responsibility when uniformed responders relieve CERT volunteers upon arrival


Integrate Your CERT into the Response Framework

You’ve sponsored a CERT, recruited volunteers, and arranged for their training. Your CERT is ready for action. But how does a CERT become part of the larger emergency response framework? Your CERT sponsor should coordinate with the local, regional, and state emergency managers regarding your CERT’s capabilities, location, and other pertinent information and have your CERT included in the area’s emergency management plans. The emergency manager should update the jurisdiction’s Emergency Operations Plan to incorporate the CERT into whatever areas the emergency manager thinks the CERT could play a role. The jurisdiction’s Emergency Operations Plan should mention the CERT, the policies in place for CERT deployment in the jurisdiction, what it may be called upon to do, and what it will not be asked to do. Usually these details are expressed in an annex to the plan. The Emergency Operations Plan should detail the CERT’s roles, functions and capabilities so everyone clearly understands how the CERT fits into the overall emergency management and response.


Emerald City Flood Scenario: Update 2

Local news Channel 13’s evening news is focused on the Emerald City flooding. The newscaster reports that the Emerald City shelter is experiencing high volume and the American Red Cross has opened two more shelters: one at the Lawrence College Auditorium and one at the Lafayette Middle School. The newscaster expresses appreciation to the Red Cross and the volunteers working at the shelters but notes that evacuees are frustrated by how long it is taking to get processed to get into the shelters. The newscaster indicates that the shelter human resources needs exceed the number of people available to help them.


Lesson 2:CERTs as Part of ICS: Lesson Summary

This lesson discussed how a CERT is integrated into the ICS. You should now be able to:

  • Identify CERT general operations within the ICS.
  • Determine how to integrate CERT programs into the response framework for an area.


Lesson 3:Working with Volunteers: Introduction

In this lesson, you will learn about effective volunteer utilization. These volunteers include CERTs, volunteer organizations active during disasters, and spontaneous volunteers. At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Identify volunteer motivations.
  • List (at least) three (3) ways to utilize volunteers effectively.
  • State special considerations for managing/directing volunteers.
  • Define VOADs and their application.
  • Identify means of interacting with VOADs.
  • Identify means to effectively integrate spontaneous volunteers.

This lesson should take you about 45 minutes to complete.


Volunteers vs. Employees

Uniformed first responders have formal training that allows them to provide service even in hazardous conditions, operate under a code of ethics, understand and follow standard operating procedures, and are expected to display professionalism. Managing this group is a function of these factors. Your management of volunteers, however, will be different from managing employees who are required to be on-scene. You must understand that your volunteers may have time limitations and varying motivations. When working with volunteers, you should:

  • Appropriately place volunteers into the best jobs that suit them.
  • Set clear expectations.
  • Make good use of their time.
  • Train and orient your volunteers.
  • Supervise them during the shift.


Volunteer Motivations

Managing volunteers requires different skills than managing employees. To better attract and manage your volunteers, you should understand their motivations for volunteering. Why do people volunteer? Some of the reasons include:

  • They have a desire to help.
  • They were personally asked.
  • They want to learn/develop personal and professional skills.
  • They want to share a skill.
  • They want to do their civic duty.
  • They want to explore career options.
  • They want to meet people or enjoy working with people.
  • They enjoy the type of work being performed.

Help volunteers to see the connection between their motivation and their service. Tap into reasons for volunteering in recruitment messages, task assignments, retention efforts, and volunteer recognition.


Ways to Use Volunteers Effectively

During an event, quickly involve your volunteers. Be respectful of their time. They want to know that their time is well spent. Express enthusiasm for supporting and partnering with volunteers. By ignoring them, they may leave and not return, and you could be missing out on a valuable resource. Volunteers can perform many types of tasks during disaster response and other types of events. Remember to ensure your volunteers are suitably trained for the assignment. Some ways you can use volunteers include:

  • Performing check-in/check-out procedures
  • Staffing shelters
  • Distributing water and food
  • Serving as runners
  • Traffic control
  • Crowd management
  • Use them in training drills, especially as patients
  • Identifying and aiding neighbors and coworkers who might need assistance

Position descriptions help potential volunteers understand the service role. Volunteers are more likely to take on the position when they clearly understand the responsibilities and benefits.


Considerations for Managing/Directing Volunteers

Keep in mind that volunteers—while happy to volunteer—do not want to feel like their time is being wasted, and they want to be well utilized. Stay engaged with your volunteers.

  • Communicate with your volunteers regularly.
  • Inspire volunteers around specific causes/objectives of their assigned task.
  • Incorporate a high level of engagement:
    • Create opportunities for volunteers to lead.
    • Communicate with them regularly.
    • Ensure the sign-up/sign-in process is simple and efficient.
    • Create opportunities for volunteers to lead.
  • Express enthusiasm to support and partner with volunteers.


Emerald City Scenario: Update 3

The Evacuation Group is reporting that homeowners are beginning to move their families out of the area. The American Red Cross has opened two more shelters, one at the Lawrence College Auditorium and one at the Lafayette Middle School. Acme Chemical is reporting first-floor flooding of their chemical processing plant. They are not reporting any chemical release but are closely monitoring their facility. Calls are coming into the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from concerned citizens wondering about the safety of the municipal drinking water. Additional concerns about the wellbeing of waterfowl and fish in the river and lake are being voiced because tourism, fishing, and hunting are a major part of the economy in the area. Additional resources are needed for evacuation, sheltering, sandbagging, water level and chemical monitoring, traffic control, and scene security at other Incident Command Posts. Several media helicopters have arrived in the area to film the ongoing operations.


What is a VOAD?

CERTs are not the only source of volunteer disaster assistance. Many familiar national nonprofit service organizations—such as the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army—are Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). Similar to CERTs, VOADs exist at state, local, and regional levels. In addition to state and local VOADs, the National VOAD consists of a combination of faith-based, community-based, and other nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that work to mitigate and alleviate the impact of disasters. They respond to disasters as part of their overall mission. You can learn more about National VOAD by visiting,


VOADs and Their Application

VOADs are committed to fostering communication, coordination, collaboration, and cooperation to better serve people affected by disasters. Today, National VOAD is a leader and voice for the nonprofit organizations and volunteers that work in all phases of disaster. VOADs help to streamline and minimize duplication of efforts by collaborating together and coordinating their efforts. The National VOAD regularly partners with government agencies, for-profit corporations, foundations, and educational and research institutions to improve disaster relief and recovery efforts.


Interacting with VOADs

The best way to interact with VOADs is before a disaster event. Investigate and assess which VOADs are in the region. Understand the various types of organizations that could supplement your emergency response efforts. Then, contact them, introduce yourself, and establish relationships with the groups that could be part of your emergency response plan. Early engagement, frequent communications, and agreed mutual expectations are the keys to successful interactions and partnerships with these organizations.


Emerald City Flood Scenario: Update 4

The nursing home’s emergency plan calls for relocating residents with acute medical care needs to the Community Hospital. Residents without acute medical needs will be sheltered. The American Red Cross, in collaboration with the Salvation Army, are managing the shelters and providing food for displaced residents. The CERT volunteers receive new assignments. The Public Works Department and the Health Department are monitoring the water intake at the Water Treatment Plant for signs of chemical contamination. Public Works crews are placing sandbags to protect the Water Treatment Plant.


Spontaneous Volunteers

Spontaneous or unaffiliated volunteers are not part of a recognized voluntary agency and often have no formal training in emergency response. Spontaneous volunteers are members of the public who self-mobilize to act during or following an emergency. They may come from within the affected area or from outside the area. They are not officially invited to become involved but are motivated by a sudden desire to help others in times of trouble. Ideally, all volunteers would be trained for disaster response and affiliated with an established organization. However, spontaneous individual volunteers inevitably appear in times of disaster. Although usually not trained in disaster response, these volunteers will possess varying skills and abilities that can be put to good use. But how best to manage and utilize these volunteers?


Establish a Volunteer Coordination Team

Because good-hearted, spontaneous volunteers will appear to assist with incident response, you should anticipate, plan for, and be able to manage this resource. An essential element of every emergency management plan is the clear designation of responsibility for the on-site coordination of unaffiliated volunteers. Specialized planning, information sharing, and a management structure are necessary to coordinate efforts and maximize the benefits of volunteer involvement as well as promote volunteer safety during an incident. Your emergency management plan should clearly designate this responsibility. This responsibility could belong to a local CERT, and the CERT’s sponsoring organization could consider how to coordinate unaffiliated volunteers during an incident. A CERT-run on-site Volunteer Coordination Team (VCT) can coordinate unaffiliated volunteers and ensure their effective utilization.


VCT Members

  • Your VCT will include members from your lead organization, representatives from partner and stakeholder organizations, such as emergency management, CERTs, Retired Senior Volunteer (RSVP), AmeriCorps/VISTA programs, local churches, and civic organizations.
  • Ensure the VCT is a component of the Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD), Citizen Corps Council, local VOAD, or other disaster collaborations.
  • Sources/Resources:


Establish a Volunteer Reception Center

Establish a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) where large numbers of volunteers can be efficiently processed and referred to organizations who are in need of services. A VRC is the place to process to register, screen, and place spontaneous volunteers in available opportunities in times of disaster. There volunteers are registered and interviewed to determine their skills and interests, provided safety training and a volunteer ID, and assigned to a suitable opportunity. The VRC is also where these volunteers will sign in and sign out for their work assignments. Prepare to establish a VRC where large numbers of volunteers can be efficiently processed and referred to organizations who are in need of services.


Volunteer Reception Center Operations

Your VRC will serve as the coordination point for spontaneous volunteers and the place to develop partnerships with community and responding agencies, identify volunteer opportunities, and fill staffing needs. Operational considerations include the following steps:

  • Implement a plan to register and place unaffiliated volunteers.
  • Implement a process to determine volunteers’ skills, interests, and ability to do the assigned work.
  • Identify organizations’ needs and volunteer opportunities. Develop or identify opportunities for volunteer groups as well as individuals. As needed, do targeted recruiting of volunteers to fill positions.
  • Refer unaffiliated volunteers to appropriate response agencies after initial screening.
  • Ensure that receiving organizations are aware of their responsibility for any additional credentialing or identification procedures.
  • Provide information on available medical and mental health services to ensure the well-being of all workers.
  • Provide security within the VRC and other facilities where volunteer management is taking place.
  • Provide a hazard-free work environment.
  • Evaluate process and outcomes by all stakeholders (VCT members, emergency management agencies, recipient agencies, and unaffiliated volunteers).
  • Recognize the efforts of individual volunteers and the community.
  • Develop a demobilization plan for phasing out the VRC when it is no longer needed.


Spontaneous Volunteers: Forms and Documents

A number of forms and documents can help manage spontaneous volunteers at the VRC:

  • Volunteer Instructions
  • Disaster Volunteer Registration Form with Release of Liability
  • Safety Orientation Checklist Disaster Volunteer Referral Role Descriptions
  • Work Site Sign-in/Sign-out Record VRC Volunteer Sign-in/Sign-out
  • Coordinating Agency Employee Sign-in/Sign-out
  • Expenses Incurred by Coordinating Agency

You can view examples of these forms in the course resources.Source for sample forms:


Interacting with Spontaneous Volunteers

How do you begin to successfully tap into the earnest willingness of spontaneous volunteers, particularly when they are not trained in disaster response? First, do you have the methods in place to register them and identify where they will work? Next, you have to consider their safety while engaging them on the spot. Good options for this group of volunteers would be to place them in useful but safe roles where they can be marshaled to ensure their safety. Staffing a registration table or check point and handing out water and supplies are examples of how to quickly engage this group. Like all volunteers, they want to be engaged and feel useful. Finally, don’t forget to thank them for donating their time and efforts to help.


Lesson 3:Working with Volunteers: Lesson Summary

This lesson discussed how to interact and utilize various types of volunteers during an incident. You should now be able to:

  • Identify volunteer motivations.
  • List (at least) three (3) ways to utilize volunteers effectively.
  • State special considerations for managing/directing volunteers.
  • Define VOADs and their application.
  • Identify means of interacting with VOADs.
  • Identify means to effectively integrate spontaneous volunteers.


Lesson 4:ICS and CERT Communications: Introduction

In this lesson, you will learn about effective communication procedures/processes for CERT/ICS communications. At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Define effective communication skills and techniques for ICS and CERT communications.
  • Explain and describe why we use NIMS common terminology.
  • Identify how best to communicate with public, media, and responders/emergency management.

This lesson should take you about 45 minutes to complete.


Effective CERT ICS Communications

Effective CERT ICS communication involves:

  • Common terminology
  • Clear, concise, plain language
  • Sharing information with the right people
  • Documentation


Common Terminology

A common language enables responders to articulate needs, describe processes, coordinate efforts, and command resources during interagency operations. When everyone clearly understands the information being shared, planning and coordination becomes simpler. Per NIMS, all interagency written and verbal communications must use common terminology in reference to:

  • Organizational functions – common names and definitions for major functions and functional units
  • Resource descriptions – common names for personnel, equipment, teams, and facilities
  • Incident facilities – common terms, such as the Emergency Operations Center

During incidents, personnel should avoid using agency-specific jargon or acronyms.


Clear, Concise, Plain Language

Besides using common terminology, all ICS and CERT communications should consist of clear, concise, plain language. Plain language refers to a communication style that avoids or limits the use of code words (e.g., “10-codes”), abbreviations, and jargon, as appropriate, during incidents involving more than a single agency. Clear, easy-to-follow, concise information and directions allow for rapid, common understanding and promote information sharing.


Chain of Command Communications

The CERT chain of command and its functional roles align with the ICS structure. Each CERT volunteer reports to his or her Section Chief. Each Section Chief has only one person that he or she takes direction from and responds to: the team leader (TL). The TL reports to the first fire or law enforcement official at their location and takes direction from that person until otherwise directed or until the CERT is relieved.


Sharing Information with the Right People

  1. Throughout the disaster response, ICS responders—both uniformed and volunteers—need to talk up the command chain one slot to their supervisor and down one to everyone they supervise.
  2. For example, a CERT Operations Section Chief would communicate upward to the CERT TL and downward to the people in the Operations Section.
  3. Adhering to this principle channels necessary information to the correct people and helps avoid overburdening communications channels.

Remember that resources should not be deployed unless appropriate authorities request and dispatch them through established resource management systems. All incident personnel should check in/check out and complete only those assignments communicated to them.



CERT Function Organization Chart



Written Documentation

Under the CERT structure, each level of organization has documentation responsibilities. Every entity, such as a functional team or staging location, must have a scribe to record everything (although sometimes that scribe will have other duties). Typically, the CERT TL designates the scribe and provides some simple instructions. Section Chiefs provide the TL with written ongoing information about damage assessment, group status, and ongoing needs. The TL shares the written information with the EOC. The TL is responsible for documenting the situation status, including:

  • Incident locations
  • Access routes
  • Identified hazards
  • Resource/capability needs
  • Support locations (e.g., staging area, medical treatment/assessment area)

The TL should be ready to provide documentation to the first-arriving first responders on the scene. This information is vital for tracking the overall situation. To learn more about documentation, select,


Documentation Flow

During an event, here is how a CERT would use these standard documents. If your CERT or sponsoring organization does not have these forms, these descriptions suggest the desired information to collect and communicate between groups.

  • CERT volunteers complete the as they travel through the area to the CERT’s staging location. The form is then given to the CERT TL. The form summarizes overall hazards in selected areas, and the information is used for prioritizing and formulating activities.
  • The CERT TL assembles teams and makes assignments based on the damage assessment information. The TL keeps the, which is the most important tool for recording the activities of the functional teams and overall situation status.
  • A scribe at the staging location signs in each volunteer using the, noting any preferred team assignments or skills. This information needs to be passed on to the Command Post.
  • The Command Post and the functional team share the, The CERT TL uses the front side of the form to communicate instructions (e.g., address, incident type, and team objectives) about the incident. The scribe of the functional team uses the blank side of the form to log team actions. The form is then returned to the Command Post when the team checks in.
  • The documents each person brought into the treatment area and his or her condition.
  • The is on hand to log incoming and outgoing transmissions; it is typically kept by the radio operator.
  • The is kept in the area or vehicle in which equipment is stored.
  • The is accessible for sending messages between any command levels and groups. The messages must be clear and concise.


Emerald City Flood Scenario: Update 5

The river levels have steadily receded and residential property owners are anxious and attempting to return to their properties. Public utility crews are assisting city building inspection crews in the inspection of evacuated homes for safety and structural integrity before allowing residents to move back in. Drinking water qualities are being monitored and cleanup and damage assessment activities are beginning. The American Red Cross and Salvation Army report that most evacuees have found longer-term temporary housing. Very few evacuees remain in their shelters, and shelters are anticipated to be closing soon. Emerald City Health Department personnel, along with representatives from the County and the State Health Departments, are monitoring the water intakes and the city drinking water for any signs of contamination. Nothing significant has been detected so far. The County Health Department is also monitoring private wells as requested by the landowners. The nursing home reports that water has receded from its building and that it is beginning cleanup procedures. It expects to finish the cleanup, including mandatory inspections by the State Health Department, within a week. Because the activities are shifting from response to recovery, the mayor of Emerald City has asked the Incident Commander to prepare to demobilize and transfer command of the incident to a Unified Command consisting of Emergency Management, the Emerald City Health Department, and the Emerald City Department of Public Works. The newly formed Unified Command will focus on restoring essential services, providing a safe reentry for displaced residents, and completing a thorough damage assessment. The transfer of command will take place at the end of the next operational period.


Communicating with the Public

During your disaster preparations, mitigations, and response, you may encounter people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) or Access and Functional Needs (AFN) (e.g., hearing impaired). You should ensure that communications with these individuals are as effective as communication with others. Select each type of audience to learn some best practices for communicating with these populations.



Consider how you will alert and provide information to the area’s AFN population during your preparedness planning. Emergency management can coordinate with local AFN-supporting agencies and programs to determine your area’s current AFN client list. For this population, be prepared to communicate the location of AFN-appropriate shelters and food, transportation availability, and healthcare locations and availability. During a disaster response, contact as required the appropriate evacuation/transportation services needed to transport and evacuate members of the AFN population. Consider how wheelchair-bound individuals will be transported. If CERT or other volunteers encounter persons with AFN, they should report that information to the TL who can provide that information to the EOC.



To ensure communication and understanding, you can:

  • Keep the message simple – Use basic words and short sentences. Pauses during the conversation allow the receiver to process the information and to have time to ask questions.
  • Give and seek feedback – Rephrase information that the individual provides you and get the individual to restate the message to verify the individual understands the communication.
  • Ask clarifying questions to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Avoid acronyms and idioms – The LEP individual may not be familiar with them; stick to plain language.
  • Speak more slowly (not loudly) – Articulate your words without raising your voice.
  • Repeat key phrases and summarize key points to reinforce the message.
  • Offer written information – The individual may have a family member that can translate the information.
  • Use nonverbal communication, if necessary.


Communicating with the Media

CERT volunteers should refrain from speaking to the media and instead refer any media inquiries to the CERT TL. The TL should then refer the media inquiries to the incident Public Information Officer (PIO) or the PIO of the CERT’s sponsoring organization. If the PIO refers media to the CERT TL or otherwise authorizes the TL to speak with the media, the TL should:

  • Establish an area for briefing the media if necessary.
  • Be careful about releasing information, by making sure it is both accurate and approved for release, while also keeping in mind people’s right to privacy.
  • Not feel compelled to answer every question asked.


Integrated Communications

During an incident, it is essential that CERT volunteers and professional responders communicate effectively. To help achieve that goal, response partners should work together to create a communications plan prior to an incident. An effective communications plan should include information about communication equipment, procedures, and systems that partners will use together during a response. The communications plan must enable supervisors to adequately supervise and control subordinates as well as communicate with and manage all resources under their supervision. The CERT Logistics Section Chief will provide communications equipment.


Communicating with Responders/Emergency Management

Each CERT and individual volunteer only has a small picture of what’s going on. Meanwhile, at a higher level, other mission priorities are being organized. Thus, the CERT TL needs to regularly communicate with the EOC with regard to incident status, team member assignments, and resources used and required. This information is vital for tracking the overall situation. The most important thing to do is to write down what happened—either on forms or simply on a sheet of paper. Every functional team or staging location should have a scribe to record everything (although sometimes the scribe will have other duties).


Using Forms to Communicate with Responders/Emergency Management

Volunteers can use a variety of logs and forms to document incident status and disaster response activities and communicate detailed information to responders and emergency management personnel. The table below provides sample forms and their purpose. Select each form to view a sample of the completed form. Note how the form entries demonstrate clear, concise, plain language. Forms Used for Response Documentation
Damage Assessment Form Completed by CERT volunteers as they travel through the area to the CERT’s staging location, then given to the CERT Team Leader; provides a summary of overall hazards in selected areas, including:

  • Fires;
  • Utility hazards;
  • Structural damage;
  • Injuries and deaths;
  • Available access; and
  • Essential for prioritizing and formulating action plans.
CERT Personnel Resources Check-In Form Used to sign in CERT volunteers as they arrive at the staging location; provides information about:

  • Who is on site;
  • When they arrived;
  • When they were assigned;
  • Their special skills; and
  • Used by staging personnel to track personnel availability.
CERT Assignment Tracking Log Used by the Command Post for keeping awareness of situation status; contains essential information for tracking the overall situation.
CERT Briefing Assignment Form Used by the Command Post to provide instructions to functional teams; used by teams to log their actions and report new damage assessment information.
Completed by CERT volunteers to document team actions and findings. Every action is listed by a timestamp.
CERT Treatment Area Record Completed by medical treatment area personnel to record survivors entering the treatment area, their condition, and their status.
CERT Communications Log (based on ICS 309) Completed by the radio operator; used to log incoming and outgoing transmissions.
CERT Equipment Inventory Form (based on ICS 303) Used to check out and check in CERT-managed equipment.
CERT General Message Form (ICS 213) Used for sending messages between command levels and groups; messages should be clear and concise and should focus on such key issues as:

  • Assignment completion;
  • Additional resources required;
  • Special information; and
  • Status update.



Transfer of Authority

CERT section leaders provide their completed reports/forms to their TL. The TL hands over all documentation to the first fire or law enforcement official to arrive at the scene. If the TL is directed to continue response activities, the CERT volunteers will continue their documentation.


Useful Communications After the Disaster Response

Consistent communications with volunteers after volunteers are discharged and disaster response is over will keep volunteers engaged and motivated to continue volunteering. Suggested communications include sharing program successes, recognizing volunteers and sponsors for efforts and contributions, and publicizing training. A newsletter, website, social media, and fliers are means to distribute information and share stories that exemplify the value of volunteer efforts.


Information Management for Spontaneous Volunteers

Clear, consistent, and timely communication is essential to successful management of unaffiliated volunteers. A variety of opportunities and messages should be used to educate the public, minimize confusion, and clarify expectations.

  • Encourage people to get involved with existing volunteer organizations.
  • Develop media and public education campaigns geared toward spontaneous volunteers that encourage people to get involved with existing volunteer organizations.
  • Develop standardized public education and media messages to use before, during, and after disaster events.
  • Stress the need to avoid compounding the disaster with regard to the involvement of unaffiliated, untrained volunteers.
  • Establish relationships with ethnically diverse media outlets and community leaders to ensure messages are designed to reach all segments of the community.
  • Always use consistent terminology and clear, concise language.


Lesson 4:ICS and CERT Communications: Lesson Summary

This lesson discussed effective communication procedures/processes for CERT/ICS communications. You should now be able to:

  • Define effective communication skills and techniques.
  • Identify how best to communicate with public, media, and responders/emergency management.
  • Explain and describe why we use NIMS common terminology.


What are the 4 main elements of the incident command system?

ICS Management Characteristics – Time and experience have shown the value of integrating highway incident response agencies into one operational organization, managed and supported by one command structure. In part, this experience is based on the successful use of key management concepts, adapted and applied to the discipline of highway incident response.

ICS employs a common terminology to facilitate communication among diverse incident management and support entities working together across a variety of incident management functions and hazard scenarios. ICS requires that one or more individuals maintain authority over all incident activities, known as the Command function.

During minor highway incidents, which often involve just a police officer and a tow truck, the command structure is informal. A single person can typically perform the command function, called the Incident Commander. The formal use of ICS becomes more critical during major highway incidents, which involve multiple agencies (such as those shown in Exhibit 1-4).

Exhibit 1-4: Highway Incident Management Stakeholders and Associated Duties and Responsibilities

Stakeholder Duties and Responsibilities
Law enforcement

Secures incident scene Performs first responder duties Assists responders in accessing the incident scene Establishes emergency access routes Controls arrival and departure of incident responders

Polices perimeter of incident scene and impact area Conducts crash investigation Performs traffic control Assumes role of Incident Commander, if appropriate Supports unified command, as necessary

Fire and rescue

Protects incident scene Rescues/extricates victims Extinguishes fires Responds to and assesses incidents involving a hazardous materials release

Contains or mitigates a hazardous materials release Assumes role of Incident Commander, if appropriate Supports unified command, as necessary

Emergency medical services (EMS)

Provides medical treatment to those injured at the incident scene Determines destination and transportation requirements for injured victims

Transports victims for additional medical treatment Supports unified command, as necessary

Emergency management agency agency

Coordinates government response and resources Provides technical expertise Provides evacuation recommendations Facilitates communication and coordination across jurisdictions

Coordinates response from other State and Federal agencies Assumes role of Incident Commander, if appropriate Supports unified command, as necessary

Transportation agencies, including:

Highway maintenance Service patrols Traffic incident response teams Transportation management center (TMC)

Protects incident scene Implements traffic control strategies and provides supporting resources Monitors traffic operations Disseminates motorist information Mitigates incidental vehicle fluid spill confined to the roadway Assesses and directs incident clearance activities May perform first responder duties (service patrol)

Clears minor incident (service patrol) Performs incident detection and verification (service patrol/TMC) Develops and operates alternate routes Assesses and performs emergency roadwork and infrastructure repair Assumes role of Incident Commander, if appropriate Supports unified command, as necessary

Towing and recovery

Recovers vehicles and cargoes Removes disabled or wrecked vehicles and debris from incident scene

Mitigates non-hazardous material (cargo) spills Supports unified command, as necessary

Unified command refers to the application of ICS when there is more than one agency with incident jurisdiction or when incidents cross political jurisdictions. When a highway incident affects a single jurisdiction and requires the response and resources of a single agency, one ranking responder typically assumes single command,

However, when a highway incident affects multiple jurisdictions or results in jurisdictional authority by multiple agencies, unified command provides the opportunity for all agencies that have statutory authority for an incident to jointly participate in the development of the overall response strategy (e.g., law enforcement, fire services, and highway patrol).

Once command has been established, ICS establishes clear rules for the transfer of command to another individual or individuals. The ICS organization is characterized by an orderly line of authority, termed chain of command, The concept of unity of command means that every individual has one and only one designated supervisor to whom that individual reports at the incident scene.

These principles clarify reporting relationships and eliminate the confusion caused by multiple, conflicting directives. A key feature of ICS is the use of modular organization. This means that the individuals involved in the incident response are organized into units (termed sections, branches, divisions, groups, etc.).

Modular organization allows the response team to be structured in a way that is appropriate given its size and complexity. It also allows the organization to expand from the top down as incident complexity increases and functional responsibilities are delegated.

ICS establishes five functional areas for management of major incidents: command, operations, planning, logistics, and finance/administration. Span-of-control recommendations are followed closely, so the organizational structure is never larger than required. Large scale or complex incidents require use of a written Incident Action Plan,

An Incident Action Plan describes the overall strategy for managing an incident. It describes an organized course of events necessary to address all phases of incident control within a specific time. It may include the identification of operational resources and assignments, and attachments that provide direction and other important management information.

  1. Comprehensive resource management helps to maintain an accurate and up-to-date picture of the use of personnel, teams, equipment, supplies, and facilities available or potentially available for assignment.
  2. An integrated communications approach develops and uses a common communications plan and interoperable communications processes.

This approach links the operational and support units of the various agencies involved in incident response and helps maintain communications connectivity and discipline.

What are the 4 stages of incident management?

The NIST incident response lifecycle breaks incident response down into four main phases: Preparation; Detection and Analysis; Containment, Eradication, and Recovery; and Post-Event Activity.

What is incident management in SOC?

Security Operations and Incident Management involves identifying, recording, analyzing and managing security threats, risks and incidents in real time.

What are the benefits of implementing SMS?

Creating a safe work environment is a goal across all industries, and implementing a safety management system is an important step in fostering a culture of workplace safety. Adopting Safety Management Systems (SMS) can not only reduce injuries and manage industry legal requirements, but also cut safety-related costs and improve organizational performance, It is well documented that safety management systems have the potential to improve health and safety performance. A 2013 study of major South Korean construction companies over five years showed that companies that implemented an SMS had an average decrease of 67% in accident rates, and 10% in fatal accident rates,

Higher safety leads to lower medical and legal costs, as well as improved company reputation. And it isn’t just large enterprises that see these benefits- one survey investigating small companies showed that adopters of safety management systems average 46% fewer incidents per year compared to non-adopters,

In the same study, those using SMS saw unexpected benefits in perceived business performance. Safety Management System adopters reported larger market shares and higher quality of product delivered. Self-reports of better business performance are strongly tied to workplace satisfaction- a safer workplace feels better about their business, which makes for happier employees.

Implementing a safety management program is a useful tool towards a safer workplace, and safety managers have to be dedicated to this program to see results. In the U.S., OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) develops employers by working closely to improve their safety management systems, and employers that participate in VPP see safety improvements from the first day.

VPP-certified companies are 52% below the national average in number of incidents that result in lost days or job transfer due to worker injury, Regardless of safety management methods, the most important factor in creating a safer workplace is how dedicated employees are to improving safety.

What are the benefits of proactive safety management system?

The benefits of a proactive safety regime are that it will enforce a positive safety culture, help to prevent accidents from occurring, and improve health and safety budgeting. The workplace inspection plays an important role in ensuring that safety standard is acceptable in the workplace.