Agency Representative: An individual designated by an assisting agency for the purpose of making authoritative decisions on matters affecting the agency’s participation at the incident. Agency Representatives report directly to the Incident Commander or designated Liaison Officer but are not part of the ICS organization.
Branch: An organizational level of the Operations Section, below the section level and above the division/group level, that facilitates efficient management of multiple operations activities via geographic, functional, or jurisdictional responsibility. Typically branches are established only for very large or complex incidents.
Chain of Command: A series of command, control, executive, or management positions in hierarchical order of authority.
Chief: Individual assigned to supervise a particular functional area, or section, of an ICS organization.
Command: One of five major functional areas of an ICS organization that provides on-scene management and control authority.
Command Staff: Personnel assigned to and charged with performing or supporting the duties and responsibilities of the Command function. Command Staff include the Incident Commander or Unified Command as well as the Public Information Officer, Safety Officer, and Liaison Officer designated as necessary to carry out key activities not specifically identified in the functional areas directed by the General Staff.
Director: Individual assigned to supervise a particular branch within a section of the ICS organization.
Division: An organizational level of the Operations Section that partitions resources on the basis of separation in terrain, geography, or fueling locations. Divisions (or groups) are established when the number of resources exceeds the manageable span of control of the Operations Chief.
Finance and Administration Section: One of five major functional areas of an ICS organization that functions to track incident costs (e.g., response, scene management, and removal) and account for reimbursements. Reimbursements may include payment for damage to transportation infrastructure or for personnel and equipment resource time and materials used to complete incident cleanup operations.
First Responder: The first responding unit to arrive at an incident scene. This term has traditionally been used to describe public safety emergency responders who have duties related to preservation of life and property. As transportation agencies become more actively involved in traffic incident response and take active roles in Incident Command (as partners in Unified Command), they are becoming accepted as first responders for traffic incidents. For example, service patrols may be first on the scene of an incident and many are trained to provide traffic control to stabilize the scene and to provide emergency first aid. Some service patrols are also permitted limited use of emergency lights and sirens to get to an incident.
Form ICS 201: A common form used to document the situation status and response activities on-scene at a highway incident. The form can include a map sketch of the incident, a summary of current actions, a chart of the current ICS organization, and a summary of resources ordered.
Form ICS 205: A common form used to document the communications plan for an incident response. The form can include a list of the type(s) of radios in use, the function of each radio channel, the frequency/tone to which the radio is set, and the radio’s assignment.
Form ICS 206: A common form used to document the medical plan for an incident response. The form can include a description and location of on-scene medical facilities, ambulances, and hospitals and may detail medical emergency procedures.
General Staff: Personnel assigned by Command to lead each functional area, or section, of the ICS organization. An individual section leader is known as a chief.
Group: An organizational level of the Operations Section that partitions resources based on major operational functions. Groups (or divisions) are established when the number of resources exceeds the manageable span of control of the Operations Chief.
Incident Action Plan (IAP): An oral or written plan that describes the overall strategy for managing an incident. An Incident Action Plan may include the identification of operational resources and assignments. It may also include attachments that provide direction and important information for management of the incident during one or more operational periods.
Incident Command Post (ICP): A vehicle or facility that signifies the location of the tactical-level, on-scene incident command and management organization.
Incident Command System (ICS): A systematic tool used for the command, control, and coordination of emergency response. ICS allows agencies to work together using common terminology and operating procedures controlling personnel, facilities, equipment, and communications at a single incident scene. It facilitates a consistent response to any highway incident by employing a common organizational structure that can be expanded and contracted in a logical manner based on the level of required response.
Incident Commander (IC): The on-scene ranking officer, representing the agency with incident jurisdiction, that performs the Command function. The IC authorizes incident objectives and strategies that collectively delineate a course of action.
Intelligence Section: A distinct functional area of an ICS organization that provides analysis and sharing of information and intelligence during an incident. Other potential responsibilities of this functional area include: (1) developing and executing information security and operational security activities, (2) ensuring the secure transfer of sensitive information between intended parties at the incident, and (3) supporting the Public Information Officer’s handling of any information- and operational-security matters with the media and public awareness initiatives.
Leader: Individual assigned to supervise a particular strike team or task force within the Operations Section or a particular unit within another section of the ICS organization.
Liaison Officer: A Command Staff position consisting of a single person who acts as the on-scene contact point for representatives of assisting agencies assigned to the incident. A Liaison Officer may designate one or more assistants from either the same or another assisting agency or jurisdiction.
Logistics Section: One of five major functional areas of an ICS organization that functions to provide services and support to the incident response effort in the form of personnel, facilities, and materials. The Logistics Section serves as the support mechanism for the ICS organization.
Mutual-Aid Agreement: A written agreement between agencies and/or jurisdictions that they will assist one another on request by furnishing personnel, equipment, and/or expertise in a specified manner.
National Incident Management System (NIMS): A system mandated by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 that provides a consistent nationwide approach for governments, the private-sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work effectively and efficiently together to prepare for, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents, regardless of cause, size, or complexity.
Open Roads Policy: An open roads policy is an interagency agreement that serves to inform incident responders of the urgent need to rapidly remove disabled or wrecked vehicles, spilled cargo, and debris that obstruct the normal flow of traffic. It disseminates key guidelines to ensure a cooperative incident removal effort between responding agencies. The policy essentially represents a charter of quick clearance practice, containing the philosophy of the practice in addition to essential decision-making criteria to facilitate the rapid removal of traffic incidents.
Operations Section: One of five major functional areas of an ICS organization that performs all incident tactical operations.
Planning Section: One of five major functional areas of an ICS organization that functions to maintain resource status and situation status, produce the Incident Action Plan, and provide technical specialists. A central function of the Planning Section involves the collection and evaluation of operational information about the incident, including the current and forecasted situation and the status of assigned resources.
Preparedness: The range of deliberate, critical tasks and activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve the operational capability to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents.
Preparedness Organization: A committee of highway incident stakeholders that coordinates preparedness activities in advance of highway incidents. Common responsibilities of a preparedness organization may include establishing integrated guidelines, procedures, and protocols to promote interoperability, adopting response priorities, and developing coordinated plans that efficiently use all resources available to the organization.
Public Information Officer: A Command Staff position consisting of a single person who has responsibility for all interaction between Command and the media and who coordinates the release of information on the incident situation and response efforts from Command to the media. A Public Information Officer may designate one or more assistants from either the same or another assisting agency or jurisdiction.
Resource: A personnel crew or equipment assigned to perform a specific tactical operation at an incident. Resources can be organized into task forces or strike teams.
Resource Management: The application of tools, processes, and systems for identifying available resources at all jurisdictional levels to enable the timely and unimpeded access to resources during an incident. The objective of resource management is to optimize resource use while maintaining cost-effectiveness and resource safety, consolidate control of single resources in order to reduce communications activity, and instill resource accountability in part to reduce responder freelancing.
Safety Officer: A Command Staff position consisting of a single person who has responsibility for monitoring on-scene safety conditions and developing measures to ensure the safety of all assigned personnel. A Safety Officer may designate one or more assistants from either the same or another assisting agency or jurisdiction.
Section: The organizational level having responsibility for a major functional area of incident management, e.g., Operations, Planning, Logistics, Finance/Administration, and Intelligence (if established).
Single Command: One of two methods of performing the Command function that involves a single incident commander. Single Command is used when a highway incident does not overlap jurisdictional boundaries nor require response by several agencies having functional responsibility at the incident.
Span of Control: The maximum number of individuals that one supervisor can manage effectively. NIMS ICS guidelines specify span-of-control should range from 3 to 7, with 5 representing the normal level.
Staging Area: Location established to enable positioning of and accounting for resources not immediately assigned. A staging area may include temporary feeding, fueling, and sanitation services as necessary.
Strike Team: An organizational level of the Operations Section, below the division/group level, that contains multiple single resources of the same kind (function) and type (performance capability).
Supervisor: Individual assigned to supervise a particular division or group within the Operations Section.
Task Force: An organizational level of the Operations Section, below the division/group level, that contains a combination of single resources temporarily assembled for executing a specific operations mission.
Traffic Management Plan: A plan established to clearly direct and control the flow of traffic that has been interrupted with minimal disturbance to normal flow. The plan determines the placement of barricades, warning lights, or signs for the duration of the highway incident impeding normal traffic flow.
Typing: Assigning a common name and function/capability “type,” per the NIMS national typing protocol, to specific resources for the purpose of inventory and management in order to promote interoperability and integration of tactical operations.
Unified Command (UC): One of two methods of performing the Command function that employs multiple ranking personnel. UC is used when a highway incident affects multiple political or legal jurisdictions and/or involves several responding agencies with contrasting functional responsibilities and missions.
Unity of Command: The concept by which each person within an organization reports to one and only one designated person.