US 89: Coordinating, managing the emergency response

US 89: Coordinating, managing the emergency response

April 24, 2013

Geotechnical work continues on US 89 and in remote areas down the slope.

When a landslide buckled a portion of US 89 back in February, the incident (unsurprisingly) brought many people together to work on restoring mobility to the area.

They’re still working. But today, rather than tell you about what they’re doing, we are going to focus on how they are staying organized.

Incident Command System

The incident command system, according to the Federal Highway Administration, “is a systematic tool for the command, control and coordination of an emergency response. ICS allows agencies to work together using common terminology and operating procedures for controlling personnel, facilities, equipment and communications at a single incident scene.”

ADOT is using the incident action planning process, which is a portion of the larger incident management process, to work through several objectives related to US 89, according to ADOT Emergency Manager Courtney Perrier Bear.

A few of those objectives are:

  • Restore mobility to the area both short- and long-term
  • Provide for the safety of site workers and visitors and security of the site
  • Keep the public, stakeholders and the media informed of recovery activities.

An incident action plan not only outlines objectives, but it includes the tactics that will be required to manage whatever the incident is. An incident action plan can help everyone involved understand the situation and assists in determining things like meetings and work assignments.

Basically, an incident action plan helps get everyone on the same page…

“Safety of personnel and the public is the top reason for using the incident command system,” Bear says.

She explains that the system was born out of wildfires that broke out in the 1970s. Those fires spread over many jurisdictions, which meant many fire departments and organizations were involved. But because there wasn’t an effective, wide-ranging management system in place, disorder hindered efforts.

Frustrated, representatives from the fire agencies worked together in the aftermath to create a better emergency management system. From there, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) adopted the Incident Command System and began teaching it.

Benefits of using the system

“It offers a better way to get a common operating picture,” Bear said.

She explains that ICS offers an efficient and faster way to restore services, secure life safety, conserve property and stabilize the incident.

ICS is about “getting everyone in the room and determining objectives,” according to Bear.