When a hurricane strikes regions of the United States, a tornado tears through a town, a wildfire threatens to engulf thousands of acres and homes a Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 All Hazards Incident Management Team can be dispatched to help your community when it is needed most. Most people have probably not even heard of Incident Management Teams (IMT’s), or valuable jobs they perform. When disaster strikes, these highly trained units are put in place by federal, state, and local governments to plan the response and aid communities in recovering from disasters. The experienced leadership of Incident Commanders allows these extremely versatile units to be effective in whatever type of situation they are called upon to manage.
Most people probably think that when disasters strike FEMA runs the show. In reality, it is FEMA’s responsibility to ensure that localities receive the equipment and supplies they desperately need. But it is your local officials who run the show, unless the situation is such that a national emergency is declared. It is the local government that begins the process of responding to emergencies and disasters. First responders usually work for them. They all have disaster plans, but situations can be more complex than the local agencies can handle. It is then that Incident Management Teams may be called to help save lives, mitigate problems, and guide local governments in recovery.
At present, the United States has 16 Type 1, and 16 Type 2 Incident Management Teams are stationed around the country. These team members have, if you will, day jobs in public safety, but a team is on standby, bags packed, and ready to deploy anywhere within a couple hours. Teams are highly trained to respond to any type of incident. They have learned to use their tools to work the process and not get overwhelmed by the incident. Team members come from various backgrounds within the public safety arena to form these teams and undergo years of specialized training, testing, and mentoring before they are assigned a position. It may take up to 20 years of training to become fully certified on one of these teams. The management gurus are not paid like CEO’s of large multinational corporations even though they are called in to save their facilities from destruction.
The Incident Commander is responsible for bringing and leading the teams that respond to various types of disasters. When an IMT comes to town there is not a 9 –to – 5 schedule. The IMT teams operate 24 hours a day until the objectives are accomplished. The Incident Commanders of these elite teams ensure the “Planning P” is followed and all roles are filled and operating at top level. The commanders, and teams they lead, work in public safety, serving not only their communities, but are willing to go anywhere when needed. Next time you see a disaster unfolding, look to see who the community brings in to help organize and lead the recovery. Chances are, behind the scenes you will see an All Hazards Incident Management Team.