Fielding a Full Incident Management Team under AIIMS
AIIMS is the Australasian Inter-service Incident Management System. The nationally recognized incident management structure in Australia, AIIMS has wide command, control, and coordination applicability in fire, land management, and other emergency situations, as well as for non-emergency incidents.
AIIMS has been around for a few decades now, and it’s not too difficult to understand its popularity. For one, the structure lets multiple agencies integrate their assets and emergency preparedness resources within a common framework, accessible to all entities involved in a given incident. That’s a godsend, especially when you usually have multiple agencies responding to the same incident with completely different systems, structures, plans, processes, and never the twain shall meet.
Besides standardization, the core values AIIMS promotes are all highly beneficial in the incident management context. Those principles include management by objectives, span of control, flexibility, unity of command, and functional management.
Management by objectives means that the Incident Control team determines incident outcomes for the purpose of ensuring that all responders understand the direction taken during the response. Span of control refers to the number of groups and people that can be supervise by one person. AIIMS’ flexibility is a function of the fact that its structures can be applied to all hazards and potentially used by all agencies. Dovetailing with span of control, unity of command indicates that responders should report to only one supervisor and that they should achieve one set of common objectives. Finally, via the principle of functional management, AIIMS lays out four, broad functional areas: Control, Planning, Operations, and Logistics.
This organizational structure is actually pivotal for the success of AIIMS as a framework, and the success of that framework in the field. Functional management is functional in every sense of the word: the AIMS-outlined Incident Management team (IMT) is designed intentionally to give full representation to all management and information functions that could be relevant in the incident response scenario.
Let’s lay out some of the key roles in this structure, noting that the composition of your IMT depends on the incident to which you’re responding:
The Incident Controller heads the mission. They have overall responsibility for the management of all activities and personnel deployed. They establish systems and procedures for the safety, health, and welfare of all response personnel. And they manage the relationship with agencies and people affected, or likely to be affected, by the incident.
The Planning Officer heads up the Planning Section. Their role consists of evaluating and analyzing intelligence on the incident, preparing options analysis, and developing incident objectives and strategies. They also prepare and distribute the Incident Action Plan, whose implementation they monitor and review. The Communications Plan is within their purview as well, as that plan is part of the larger Incident Action Plan. Finally, they collect and maintain information on resources allocated.
Meanwhile, the Intelligence Officer collects information on the current and forecast incident situation. They analyze and process that information into timely, accurate, and relevant intelligence. And then they organize and display that intelligence in the form of a Common Operating Picture.
In this structure, the Public Information Officer disseminates information, advice, and safety messages to the public. They’re on tap to provide timely and relevant information, including safety messages to those who may be impacted by the incident. They liaise with the Incident Controller, whom they have to consult before releasing media announcements.
The Operations Officer heads up the Operations Section, which is tasked with implementing strategies to resolve the incident. The Operations Officer, specifically, is responsible for managing, supporting, and providing advice and direction to sector commanders.
The Logistics Officer provides support for control of the incident through the organization and provision of human and physical resources, facilities, services, and materials. The Officer provides support and control for the demobilization of equipment and services.
Finally, the Finance Officer has to account for expenditure during the incident and manage insurance and compensation issues during the incident. This can include collecting and recording cost data; cost estimation and recovery for the incident.
AIIMS provides a slew of responsibilities to go with each of those roles.
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