Federal directives and State law mandate use of
the Incident Command System (ICS) by their agencies as the emergency management
system for oil and hazardous substance spill response. Management of responses
to oil and hazardous substance releases is further governed by the National
Contingency Plan (NCP). Industry contingency plan holders are likewise required
to implement a response system as part of their overall response plan.
The National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS) version of the ICS, which was
developed for wildland firefighting, is frequently referred to as the adopted
model for oil and hazardous substance spill response. The NIIMS ICS, however,
is more than an emergency management structure as it includes standardized ordering
systems, a governing body which oversees changes and modifications, training,
qualifications, callout, and many other features. These standard elements have
not been fully addressed as part of an ICS for oil and hazardous substance spill
A major difference in spill response operations is the government
oversight role that is a key element in any Responsible Party (RP)-led incident.
The Multiagency Coordination System (MACS) is another concept of NIIMS that
cannot be strictly applied to an oil spill response operation. Therefore, there
are unique aspects of oil and hazardous substance spill response that necessitate
modification of the NIIMS in order to meet the desired objectives.
As a result, certain parties interested in oil and hazardous substance spill response formed
the Standard Oil Spill Response Management System (STORMS) Task Force to develop
an ICS that took into account the unique needs of oil and hazardous substance
spill response, while adhering as much as possible to NIIMS. The STORMS Task
Force produced the first version of the "oilized" ICS Field Operations Guide
(FOG) in 1996. An updated version of the FOG was prepared by the Alaska Department
of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) in 1998, which incorporated parts of the
Alaska Clean Seas (ACS) Technical Manual, and also captured the lessons learned
from spills and drills in Alaska.
In October 1998, the Statewide Oil and Hazardous
Substance Incident Management System Work Group (now known as the Alaska Incident
Management System (AIMS) Work Group) was created which included representatives
from federal and State agencies, as well as representatives from the oil industry
and spill cooperatives. The primary task of this ad hoc work group was to prepare
standardized spill response management guidelines acceptable to all users in
Following publication and distribution of the document in January 2000,
comments were solicited from a wide spectrum of potential response agencies,
including the Alaska Regional Response Team. The AIMS Guide was subsequently
updated to include pertinent comments and suggestions.
The resultant product, The Alaska Incident Management System Guide for
Oil and Hazardous Substance Response (AIMS Guide), is a landmark step
because it: merges the concepts of the NCP with NIIMS; has received
acceptance by both government and industry users in Alaska; has been customized
to meet Alaska's unique needs; is consistent with the latest update published
by the Western States/British Columbia Task Force FOG update workgroup, and
the U.S. Coast Guard Incident Management Handbook; and will yield substantial
savings to all users by providing a useful guideline for the Alaska spill
SUMMARY OF MAJOR FEATURES:
This guide provides for maximum flexibility in varied situations, but specific training
is required for effective implementation. The actual size of an ICS organization
and the government's role in the response is event-specific. Not all positions
need to be filled. The size of the organization is dependent on the magnitude
of the incident and can be expanded or contracted as necessary.
is a brief summary of the major features of this guide.
- Three Levels of a Response. This guide recognizes that there may be three levels of a response
with a corresponding team for each level: response in the field by the Field
Response Team (FRT); follow-on incident management by the Incident Management
Team (IMT); and upper level crisis management support provided by a Crisis Management
Team (CMT). The specific roles and responsibilities of each team are addressed
in the appropriate sections.
- Three Potential Roles for Governmental Agencies.
This guide also recognizes three potential roles for government agencies engaged
in a spill response operation. These include: government oversight; augmentation
of a responsible party's response; and the government as the lead agency in
- Local On-Scene Coordinator (LOSC). The role of the LOSC is discussed
in this guide. The LOSC is a part of the Unified Command (UC) in situations
where there is an immediate threat to public health and safety, and/or where
local involvement in UC is otherwise pre-identified in the subarea contingency
- Regional Stakeholder Committee (RSC). In an effort to minimize the
confusion with the NIIMS MACS concept, the term RSC was developed to denote
the group of stakeholders who may have a vested interest in a spill event.
- Incident Action Plan/General Plan (IAP/GP) Unit. This is an optional unit that
may be formed within the Planning Section. The unit's primary focus is the preparation
of the IAP and GP.
- Operations Section Organization. Within the Operations
Section, the guide provides for a wide variety of functions that may be organized
into branches, divisions, groups, task forces, etc. A pre-established organizational
structure is not provided as each situation will determine the need for functional
elements, which can then be organized to best meet the needs of the Operations
- Incident Management System Knowledge/Training Guidelines. A separate
appendix (Appendix C) provides recommended knowledge and training guidelines
for each of the IMS positions discussed in the guide.
- General Purpose and Description of ICS Forms. Although no forms are included in this document, the
general purpose for the use of each form is provided.
- IMT Meeting Guidelines. A general schedule of events (an Incident
Management System Planning Cycle) and the objectives and topics for specific
meetings are provided as a guideline.
- Incident Situation Status - Information Center Status Boards. Standard Situation
Status Board examples are provided as a guideline to post in the Information