February 2021 was the final month of COSTEP MA’s Incident Command System (ICS) study group. Participants met for a one-hour virtual chat hour to pose questions to each other and discuss all things ICS. Below are some final observations from the chat provided by Jim McLoughlin of MEMA’s Training and Exercise Unit.

  • I agree with the observation that knowledge of ICS is important to liaison with emergency responders. It helps you to speak their language, know where you fit in and interface your operations with theirs.
  • For those who intend to revise their [disaster] plans, the idea of assigning roles by position instead of names is an important first step, but I’d take it a step farther. Identify what functions need to be performed. When there is only one person present in a small institution, that person can assume the Incident Commander role and perform all functions. When others are available, or as others become available, the senior person can be the Incident Commander and delegate functions to whomever is best suited to perform them. Know or learn who can do what, and leave the division of labor for when there are people present to divide it among. Trying to pre-assign tasks according to position title can be just as much a trap as trying to pre-assign tasks by name.
  • As to picking the best person to be the Incident Commander, the role does often default to the senior person in an organization. Objectively, the best person to choose as Incident Commander is someone who is good at visual thinking: being able to envision what needs to be done in what sequence. It’s then just a matter of doing it, or issuing orders to others to get it done. There should be no shortage of visual thinkers in COSTEP with so many members working in visual arts.

Thanks, Jim! Even though the study group has concluded, familiarizing yourself with ICS is a continuous process. Schedule out time every few years to refresh yourself on the basics or re-take ICS 100. And mark your calendars for this upcoming ICS webinar on March 23rd hosted by the New Jersey Cultural Alliance for Response (NJCAR) and the New Jersey State Library, featuring David W. Carmicheal:

Implementing the Incident Command System at the Repository Level
Presented by: David W. Carmicheal, State Archivist for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Date: March 23, 2021 at 2:00 pm ET

Every cultural repository needs two management structures: the day-to-day, business-as-usual hierarchy, and a “supercharged” management structure that takes over temporarily during a crisis or whenever events threaten to overwhelm normal business routines. Emergency responders have used just such a supercharged structure for years: The Incident Command System (ICS).

This webinar will explain how libraries, archives, and museums can adopt the ICS as a temporary management structure whenever ‘business as usual’ won’t get the job done. Whether you are preparing for fires and floods—or planning a major public event—the Incident Command System is a proven management tool that safeguards lives, property, and priceless collections. Learn how to put it to use in your repository!

More information and to register: https://bit.ly/37TXSDR