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Efficacy of Incident Management Teams and emergent multi-organizational networks in the implementation of the Incident Command System

Bailey, William Brett

The Incident Command System (ICS) exists as the nationwide standard for onsite incident management, as called for under the National Incident Management System (NIMS). However, the effectiveness of ICS is debated, both for its systemic efficacy as a response model and for its inconsistent application. Since the development of ICS, individual responders have trained to work together as Incident Management Teams (IMTs). Even though little research exists on IMTs, their use has increased widely since the release of the NIMS. The alternative to IMTs is implementing ICS through a collection of individuals in an ad hoc manner, often referred to as an Emergent MultiOrganizational Network (EMON). This study strives to determine the impact of IMTs versus EMONs on the effectiveness of emergency and disaster response. It is hypothesized that the use of IMTs will increase the perceived effectiveness of a response, specifically in the application of the Incident Command System. The population for this study is emergency and disaster responders at large, regardless of disciplinary or jurisdictional demographics. The sample population is individual responders comprising both members and non-members of Incident Management Teams. The responders were from across the four state area of FEMA Region VII (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska). Non-IMT responders serve as a control group of EMONs to determine whether IMT membership has any effect on response. This study is limited in that it is not based on specific responses. Instead, respondents provide feedback to a survey based on what their normal actions were for their last biggest response.