Recap from December’s training

COSTEP MA is currently hosting an informal, self-paced study group on learning the Incident Command System (ICS). To recap, in December we enrolled and completed ICS 100 training through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Our study group encourages participation at your own pace, so if you have not yet taken the ICS 100 training there is still time! The training, which lasts about 3-4 hours, can be completed either in one session or in multiple sessions on your own time. For easy access, we recommend bookmarking the training link in your browser, pausing the training when you need to, and returning to it in future sessions.

What we learned

While the direct impact and applicability of ICS might not seem totally obvious to sectors outside of emergency management and response, below are a few take-aways we learned that bridge cultural heritage and ICS:

  • Knowing ICS can manage our expectations for response. One of the many benefits of ICS is its adherence to the principle of Modular Organization. Modular Organization is a flexible organizational structure that is based on an incident’s size and complexity and can expand and contract depending on how large or small the incident is or how it changes over time. This variability is further reflected in another important ICS principle: Unified Command. For multi-jurisdictional incidents or incidents where multiple agencies are involved, a Unified Command will be established to manage the incident through jointly-approved objectives. The take-away here is that disaster response is grounded in the circumstances of the incident and scales with need. In some cases, you might have response led by one Incident Commander, who is the leader of all operations and manages all core functions and activities. The Incident Commander may delegate deputies, section chiefs, and other command and general staff to assist in response or the Incident Commander may be able to handle all responsibilities themselves (the ICS principle of Manageable Span of Control governs this decision-making process). In other cases, there may be multiple agencies directing and supervising operations, planning, logistics, and finance/administration during response.
  • Knowing ICS can help us determine how our expertise as cultural heritage professionals may be most useful during response. One of the five major ICS function areas is Planning. Planning supports the incident action planning process by tracking resources, collection/analyzing information, and maintaining documentation. More specifically, the Planning section is responsible for gathering information that supports the strategies and tactics during response. Since we know our collections and facilities best, interfacing with the Planning section may be an effective way to help restore our buildings, objects, and activities to their pre-disaster state.
  • Do you have take-aways from the training? Email us at with what you learned and we’ll include it in this post! Or jot them down and bring them to our group discussion in February (date and registration details are TBD and will be posted on our Events page soon).

Next steps

How else does ICS relate to our day-to-day activities as cultural heritage professionals? How can we implement ICS in a practical way? Let’s turn to David W. Carmicheal for some answers! Set aside some time this month to watch David Carmicheal’s webinar, “The Supercharged Management System,” which is made available through the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) Connecting to Collections Care website. The webinar is about an hour long and goes over how we in cultural organizations can put ICS to use. And we’re lucky that we’re watching this webinar in January, because David Carmicheal’s accompanying book, Implementing the Incident Command System, is on sale for $28 until the end of January.

COSTEP will be hosting a virtual discussion session on Monday, February 22nd from 2:00-3:00 ET to provide space for us to chat about all things ICS! To receive the Zoom invite for the discussion, email