Yesterday, the National Integration Center (NIC) issued a NIMS Alert announcing a national engagement period for several new documents. These documents include:
- NIMS Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Skillsets User Guide and 17 EOC Skillsets
- National Qualification System (NQS) for the EOC Director and Division/Group Supervisor Position Qualifications
- NQS EOC Director and Division/Group Supervisor Position Task Books
All in all, I find these to be solid documents. I appreciate the guidance assembled for the EOC Director position (although it still bothers me that it’s not called an EOC Manager) and find it to be well thought through and informed by experience. My only issue with the position task book for EOC Director is that the Typing is based upon staffing numbers for the EOC. While that is certainly one of the nuances of complexity, I think the resource typing should be a reflection of experience relative to the overall complexity of the incident, rated best by incident type. The chart linked to shows the common benchmarks used to categorize an incident based on overall complexity. This is a NIMS standard. While there is a correlation between incident complexity and EOC staffing, those of us experienced in incident management, especially at the EOC level, have seen over-staffing and under-staffing of EOCs, as well as EOC-types of facilities (such as departmental operations centers), which may oversee their agency’s operations for incredibly complex incidents with a relatively small staff. Of course, smaller jurisdictions can deal with highly complex incidents, without having a large number of staff to support an EOC. I’ve also seen very capable EOC managers from smaller jurisdictions (who might, under this guidance be rated as a Type 3 EOC Director) step in through mutual aid to run EOCs in larger jurisdictions with far more staff (a Type 1 EOC Director position). Their relative success in doing so is based largely upon experience with incidents of greater complexity, not numbers of staff.
I’m really happy with the Skillsets documents published by the NIC for EOC Director. I think these are outstanding references, which not only help drive a more detailed evaluation of a candidate as their position task book is being reviewed, these can also act as benchmarks for preparedness activities. Documents like this strongly support jurisdictional guidance for EOC activity, training standards for EOC personnel, and exercise evaluation guides (EEGs) for exercises. When reviewing these Skillsets documents in detail, the only potential pitfall that I find is that some individual items may not be as relevant to an EOC Director in some jurisdictions or some incidents, especially if the individual’s regular job is not at the policy level. As such, jurisdictional policy matters will be imposed upon the position rather than the position dictating policy. That said, these documents are guidance, and should be handled as such. They can be subject to modification by agencies and jurisdictions as needed.
While I did do a quick review of the Division and Group Supervisor materials, I really don’t have much comment on them. These positions are long-established in the ICS lexicon, with a fair amount of supporting materials being provided on them through the years.
Be sure to check out the original website I linked to for access to the documents and information on the webinars scheduled this month to review these documents, as well as the feedback mechanism for the engagement period itself.
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on these documents. What do you think is done well? What should be improved upon?
© 2018 Timothy Riecker, CEDP