All hazards incident management team training

Published:  31 October, 2018

The US All Hazards Incident Management Team Concept was introduced to flood and water incident managers in October at a Floodfighter training event conducted by the Professional Rescue SAR Academy at the UK Fire Service College. Academy CEO David Lane reports.

All Hazards Incident Management Teams (AHIMTs) are made up of dedicated and experienced senior-level emergency management professionals able to deploy immediately when requested by the state or jurisdiction – in the UK, for example, this could be the LRF or requesting authority. AHIMTs generally consist of individuals with expertise in different roles including command, operations, logistics, planning, finance and recovery. They are a rapidly deployable asset to anywhere in a region or the country as a whole, supporting communities in their emergency response efforts.

The recent Floodfighter training event was specifically designed to share the AHIMT concept with SLS GB’s volunteers nationally and locally deployable managers, challenging delegates in concepts of leadership and the use of these roles in the management and resolution of incidents. It was also designed to compare the UK Incident Management System (ICS) to that of the US National Incident Management System (NIMS) because of the many synergies between delegates’ roles and AHIMT concepts. The class was presented by Jeff Dulin, retired Deputy Fire Chief of the Charlotte Fire Department, NC, USA, who is now the strategic adviser for the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Dulin’s history includes deployment to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and man-made events across the US.

According to the general principles of the concept, upon arrival at the scene, the AHIMT’s incident commander meets with the local incident commander and the agency administrator – this could be the county executive, agency manager or chief executive – to determine what they expect from the AHIMT, and to obtain any necessary delegation of authority. The incoming incident commander then briefs the rest of the incoming AHIMT about their role and the AHIMT integrates as requested into the existing incident command system structure. Through this process of conducting role responsibilities within the AHIMT, team members assist the incident commander and the higher command structures in facilitating the coordination of on-scene operations and the resolution of emergency challenges.

The types of incidents the AHIMT could be called to attend include natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes; planned exercises or public events requiring the cooperation and joint partnership of two or more agencies and authorities; public health emergencies; terrorist incidents; train derailment, aircraft incidents, and other large or complex accidents; or major public events such as sports events or concerts.

The training was designed around an overview of NIMS as well as the implementation of the AHIMT into several experiential scenarios undertaken by delegates in syndicates. The incident management teams may work for the local authorities and provide experienced senior-level management to help plan and execute operational aspects of an event. They provide rotational personnel for communities that might be strained by the scale of an event or to take on the event due to local lack of expertise at that level. The AHIMT’s most important role is to assist the local authorities in gaining an understanding of the situation as well as plotting a course of practical action to deal with the event, its impacts, and the road to recovery of normality.

In the US the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the coordinator for disaster response on a federal level and assists States with their emergency preparedness and response. FEMA created and developed the coursework and credentialing for AHIMTs. The full AHIMT 0-305 course is a five-day course of lectures and presentations on case studies and exercises. Students seeking qualification as an AHIMT member should have qualifications in roles such as incident commander, operations section chief, planning section chief, logistics section chief, and finance section chief. More information on IMTs can be found on the FEMA’s website www.usfa.fema.gov.

In the US there are also groups working to promote the development and use of IMTs. The All Hazards Incident Management Team Association promotes IMTs and hosts an annual conference each year. This year the International Association of Fire Chiefs is working with the AHIMTA on delivering the conference in Hilton Head, South Carolina, on December 1-6.

  • Operation Florian

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