Continuing in its commitment to developing responders, EMSI President Ron Cantin recently organized and presented as part of a panel session at the Clean Gulf Conference in Tampa, FL. The session was titled: “Understanding Incident Complexity: Right Sizing the Response Organization”. This session examined the specific factors that drive incident complexity in today’s response environment. Additionally, it offered the perspective from government officials on organizational expectations. Finally the session provided considerations on keeping the organization “right sized” during the three primary phases of a response: escalation, stabilization/maturation, and de-escalation.
Specifically examining the complexities faced by Incident Management Teams (IMT) today, Ron’s discussion focused on issues such as social media, politics, public expectation and perception, and many others. Discussing how these complexities impact effective management of an incident, he highlighted how teams must continually monitor and assess these complexities throughout the lifecycle of a response. Recognizing the evolution of incident management, Ron also talked about how teams organize differently today than in years past. In today’s environment, greater emphasis is placed on the Public Information Officer and Liaison Officer functions as stakeholder and public engagement is a primary consideration by Command in conducting comprehensive response actions. Ron further discussed how important it is to maintain lean and efficient IMTs, while at the same time placing additional emphasis on effective staffing within the Situation Unit as they serve an ever expanding role in providing trusted information to teams and external entities alike.
Other presenters within the panel focused on government agency expectations of IMTs in terms of size/scale and assuring positive control of the incident response effort. Emphasizing how the IMT scales in size to match incident requirements, presenters also discussed using a “prudent over response” posture early in order to effectively manage the incident potential, then “right size” appropriately as response efforts stabilize and the incident is brought into complete control.