1. #1
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    Question NIMS - Does/Did it work?

    In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there were obviously breakdowns in communications on many fronts. I am not looking to re-hash all of the problems that occurred, just looking for information on if NIMS was used. If it was used, did it function as was intended? Will NIMS continue on in its present form? Will it be revamped and overhauled? Will it be scrapped? Can it work?

    I am not nor do I claim to be an expert on NIMS as I have only completed the online IS700 material. In my opinion, the NIMS system did not work as intended and should undergo a major overhaul. Personnally, I don't see what was wrong with what we had before NIMS.

    What are your opinions on NIMS?

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    First take a look at this site and check the deployment of the Incident Management Teams in the current "National Incident Management Situation Report". www.nifc.gov .

    I have been involved with the ICS and NIIMS (National Incident Interagency Management System) since the FIRESCOPE days in the mid 1970s in California. Does NIMS work ? In short, YES. Did it work well in this case ? Unfortunately NO.

    The problem is not with NIMS but with agencies that have not trained and used NIMS. In many cases the local agencies have no interoperability capability or communications. NIMS is a system to get everyone on the same page, not a federal program to provide equipment, supplies and personnel.

    You say that you don't see what was wrong with the system you had before NIMS. Did your system allow you to co-ordinate the response of fire, law enforcement, ems, disaster relief agencies, public works, utility companies, private contractors, and the many other agencies and volunteers that respond to a large scale incident ? Did it provide a means to support all these agencies and track costs?

    IMHO most of the objection to NIMS seems to be the failure to understand the concept of needing a system to include agencies outside your own.

    If you old system is better than NIMS, please share.

    Stay Safe
    IACOJ

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    Ray:

    True - I agree that it is essential have the ability to interoperate with other agencies. Emergency service personnel should have had at least received training in the basic fundamentals of ICS and NIMS (admittedly, mine is limited to the basics). As you said yourself, NIMS is intended to get everyone on the same page. You also said that other agencies have not had any orientation with NIMS. I know that in my area, public works, some utilities, and I'm sure private contractors have no idea what NIMS is much less had any training. Doesn't that flaw the system right from the start?

    I guess most of my questions and delusions come from my own ignorance of the system. The size and scope of this disaster are also hard for me to fathom. I am making a conscious effort to revisit my own training levels to understand it better.

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    It's alway good to question any system to make sure it is understood and to make changes where necessary.

    All branches of government must get on board with NIMS if they want to receive federal money.

    Some are ignoring it including some federal agencies and others are working towards it. In the end we will see some changes but the basic concept is sound.

    I agree that the scope of this operation is beyond comprehension for most of us. We routinely deal with wildfires involving several square miles with sub-divisions that have to be evacuated. We use have used the ICS on which NIMS is based for years. It's still difficult to manage an operation with several thousand firefighters and support personnel plus keeping the public informed and out of harms way. You haven't lived until you can call the local fast foot hamburger chain and tell them you need 500 hamburgers and fries to go. You'll be there in an hour to pick them up. That is an example of preplanning on the logistics side. The agreement was already in place with the business to provide the service.

    You might check with the other branches of local government to see where they are at in the NIMS process. At some point try a tabletop exercise with other agencies to see how it goes. Pick a likely local disaster that would require response from more that one or two agencies and work your way through the initial response to recovery. The exercise will probably open some eyes.


    Stay Safe
    IACOJ

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    Actually this has been addressed. NIMS compliance is tied into several grant programs. They are listed in this link.

    If it wasn't for the federal grants programs, we would more than likely not have any NIMS training at all. I've been working on the online courses available from the USFA - it's beginning to make more sense. Thanks.

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    Ray is correct...NIMS or ICS works, and works very well...if... all participants at the incident have a basic understanding of ICS concepts and are able to work in that environment. The wildland fire service has been using it for a very long time and very successfully. How else could you hope to manage hunderds or thousands of resources at one large incident when the majority of those resources are from OUT-OF-AREA. The system works very well ... not only on a large scale but on small one department responses as well, it is very scalable and can fit any incident.
    Rick Gustad - Chief
    Platte Volunteer Fire Department
    www.plattevfd.com

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    Nowhere else is it codified as such, but Ca state law says you must use ICS on a Hazmat incident. The fact that it was designed before a "Hazmat incident" was even thought of is a testament to its adaptibility.

    Birken

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