1. #1
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    Question NIMS First Responder Credentialing

    There is currently an effort by the NIMS Integration Center to begin developing a system to "credential" first responders across the country. Essentially, it is a process in which all first responders will be issued a secure photo-id "smart card" that will identify them and their position in accordance with the NIMS resource typing. Here is the latest update on the initiative:

    Q: What is the status of the credentialing initiative?

    A: In Fy 2007, the NIC will facilitate the 5 existing discipline groups (EMS, SAR, Public Works, Incident Management and Fire/Hazmat), and 3 new groups (Law Enforcement, Health & Medical, and Animal Control). Additional credentialing efforts are being supported by the NIC through technical consultation and advice to various groups. This includes Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Public Health, National Emergency Number Association (NENA)/Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO), and the DHS Office of Grants and Training Target Capabilities List Working Groups. Additionally, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate and the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) are working to establish a working group to extend the FIPS-201 SmartCard standard to address more than identity vetting by specifying the storage allocation of data features, data structures and essential information such as affiliations, qualifications etc. to ensure the various FIPS-201 implementations will be interoperable nationally. Finally the universal business processes for the credentialing system will be developed covering the selection of accrediting agencies, selection of persons to be credentialed, selection of level of badging persons required by discipline, and the authentication of issued cards.

    Q: The NIMS document mentions a credentialing system tied to training and certification standards. Is there a national credentialing system in place that we need to follow?

    A: The development of a nationwide credentialing system is a fundamental component of NIMS. A national credentialing system can document minimum professional qualifications, certifications, training and education requirements that define baseline criteria expected of emergency response professionals and volunteers for deployment as mutual aid to disasters. While such a system is meant to verify the identity and qualifications of emergency responders, it does not provide automatic access to an incident site. The credentialing system can help prevent unauthorized, i.e., self-dispatched or unqualified personnel, access to an incident site. To support this credentialing initiative, the Center will use working groups to identify positions that should be credentialed and the minimum qualification, certification, training and education requirements for each position. The groups will represent the following disciplines:

    - Incident Management
    - Emergency Medical Services
    - Fire Fighting and Hazardous Materials Response
    - Law Enforcement
    - Health Care
    - Public Health
    - Public Works
    - Search & Rescue
    - Animal Control / Veterinary

    In addition to these NIC discipline groups the NIC is working with other organizations to assist their development of credentialing for their disciplines, such as the APCO/NENA initiative to credential emergency dispatchers, and the Citizen Corps initiative for credentialing volunteers.

    Although the NIMS Integration Center has identified subject matter experts for its working groups, the Center requests notification of all existing credentialing efforts, regardless of discipline. The NIC welcomes your participation into our stakeholder review group. As a stakeholder, you will receive updates concerning the working group process and be able to review and provide feedback on the draft products that are developed. If you are interested in participating as a stakeholder, please send an e-mail to: nims-integration-center@dhs.gov.

    ================

    While I think this a great idea and something that can be of exteme value, I am curious as to see how this will be implemented - especially across the country. As with any "credential", it is only as good as the process used to issue it and, once it is issued, to ensure that the card remains valid (i.e. if a member is no longer active, their "priviledges" are revoked). While issuing and maintaining secure cards is probably fairly easy for a small department, how can this be successfully done across a State and the entire country. I know in my State, there is no such system that actively tracks first responders, their certifications, positions, qualifications, etc. For such a system to be successful, does every State now have to begin tracking every first responder? And, if so, how will this be done and by whom? What is the criteria? What happens when John Doe gets promoted - who updates his credential? As you can begin to see, this is a huge task with a lot of questions left unanswered.

    Any comments?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcunningham
    While issuing and maintaining secure cards is probably fairly easy for a small department, how can this be successfully done across a State and the entire country. I know in my State, there is no such system that actively tracks first responders, their certifications, positions, qualifications, etc. For such a system to be successful, does every State now have to begin tracking every first responder? And, if so, how will this be done and by whom? What is the criteria? What happens when John Doe gets promoted - who updates his credential? As you can begin to see, this is a huge task with a lot of questions left unanswered.

    Any comments?
    I don't know about anywhere else, but our County Emergency Management Agency is currently in the implementation phase of a county-wide accountability system for fire, PD, EMS, municipal and county employees. The system they are currently in the final stages of testing would (to the best of my knowledge) eventually support the credentialling requirements you're concerned about, as well as other data. The oversight and data management functions will rest with county EMA, while the various emergency and government services will be responsible for periodically updating their portion of the data held by the County.

    This seems like it's going to be a manageable system and I would imagine it could be replicated across the state, as long as the 67 counties were working together.
    Last edited by bobsnyder; 11-30-2006 at 05:05 PM.

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    Bob -

    That is great to see that your county is taking on this project. I think it can be a success, but it certainly has to be something that is accepted and adopted on a county and state level first before it goes nationwide. Eventually, it will all come down to control (who manages it) and how it is paid for. Speaking from CT, there is currently no system county or statewide that is tracks emergency personnel. It is left purely up to individual departments. I imagine we are not alone, however.

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    My County is starting one as well. It's been 2 years of discussions and finally starting to gather information. But they have already run into problems. They have decided that your "certs" will be based on your "career" position first. Not a giant deal for most people, but it has upset enough that the process is now getting further "boogered" up. What it means...you may be an officer in your vol department, but a probationary member in a paid department. To my County, that means you are nothing more than a probationary firefighter, even though you may have years of experience and training/certs out the wazoo. A guy that works for a paid EMS service as just an EMT and is a Fire Instructor (for free) would only be at a basic EMT level.

    Hopefully, the NIC version of this credentialling will be better organized than what "we" are currently working through.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Default Credentialing - Drafts

    Here is the link to the actual draft guidelines.

    FEMA NIMS MA Draft Guidelines

    IM = Incident Mgmt.
    FHM = Fire/Hazmat
    EMS = EMS
    SAR = Search & Rescue

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    My County is starting one as well. It's been 2 years of discussions and finally starting to gather information. But they have already run into problems. They have decided that your "certs" will be based on your "career" position first. Not a giant deal for most people, but it has upset enough that the process is now getting further "boogered" up. What it means...you may be an officer in your vol department, but a probationary member in a paid department. To my County, that means you are nothing more than a probationary firefighter, even though you may have years of experience and training/certs out the wazoo. A guy that works for a paid EMS service as just an EMT and is a Fire Instructor (for free) would only be at a basic EMT level.

    Hopefully, the NIC version of this credentialling will be better organized than what "we" are currently working through.
    So..... If you attend the XYZ certification program that both volly and career staff attend, but you attend as a volly it won't be recognized. But those that attend via their career department will have the certification recognized....

    Makes perfect sense to me!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    What it means...you may be an officer in your vol department, but a probationary member in a paid department. To my County, that means you are nothing more than a probationary firefighter, even though you may have years of experience and training/certs out the wazoo. A guy that works for a paid EMS service as just an EMT and is a Fire Instructor (for free) would only be at a basic EMT level.
    While ours will generate a separate record for each affiliation someone has, we're not differentiating levels of training by career vs volunteer. If you've got it, you've got it, and that's that. It will mean that some people will have multiple ID cards and profiles in the system which are cross-referenced by ID number. For example, a career firefighter in the City of Reading who is also a volunteer Chief in the suburbs will have two sets of ID and two profiles, using the appropriate ones in the appropriate places. Same thing will hold for a volunteer firefighter who also happens to be a municipal road crew foreman, or any other combination you can think of.

    I don't know all the details yet, as this thing hasn't been rolled out to the field users, but I believe that our county EMA has done their homework and developed a functional system.

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    I see this thread is pretty dated; my question to the world is what's the status of these systems now? Have any states, municipalities or other agencies have a system in place? Also if so what shortcomings or roadblocks have you encountered?

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