A New Model for Incident Management

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David Flamm (CHDS Master’s cohort 1401/2) discusses the inefficiencies, conflicts, and misinterpretations that are created by emergency responders who rely on different approaches to incident management.  He draws on practitioner interviews and an extensive literature review to demonstrate how the responses to Deepwater Horizon, Hurricane Sandy, Boston Marathon Bombing and US Ebola might have been different if responders took a more comprehensive and unified approach as described in his model.

Read Flamm’s thesis: New Model for Understanding Incident Management [pdf]


The Reflecting PoolMore episodes from the Reflecting Pool podcast.

14 Responses

  1. Artena Moon says:

    Very informative and well presented. A rich dialogue that includes strengths and weaknesses. This podcast effectively informs emergency management. Thank you.

  2. Sophia Black says:

    A very informative and educational view on the world of Emergency & Incident Management, the differences therein, and obstacles to overcome. David Flamm’s research & effort is the stepping stone in creating fluidity amongst Incident Management Practitioners. A job well done.

    • David Flamm says:

      Wow, thanks, Sophia! You touched on a lot of the intended outcomes of my research. Helping folks understand Emergency Management’s role within the Incident Management Enterprise is an ongoing effort, and a discipline-wide dialogue that needs more informed voices.

  3. David Flamm says:

    If you’re interested in perusing the thesis/research this podcast is based on, here it is: https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=798786

  4. Michael St. John says:

    It’s well done and David brings up some excellent points about the disconnect/challenged relationship with EOC, DOC’s and management of incidents that impact large regions. I also liked how he states the processes important as we look at updating the management models. I realize in many ways we have not changed ICS much since 1973 and it’s always been difficult to make it translate into EOC and larger regional incidents with multiple layers of government involved. It’s good time to review management of recent large incidents and see if we can build a better system. Nice work on your part producing this and selecting a highly relevant topic.

    • David Flamm says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Michael. One of the things I put in to my model was a clear description of the layers of Incident management within a single organization/jurisdiction, then showed how those layers could be duplicated several times as additional organizations/jurisdictions become involved, and the relationships therein. I definitely think these types of simple descriptions would improve the efficacy and intuitiveness of our incident management doctrine. Thanks for your comments.

  5. Jeff Ellis says:

    Mr. Flamm seems to be on to something. I wanted to comment quickly on what I see as the central issue in his conversation and that is the idea of getting community “buy in” in the design of NIMS and Emergency Management methods or protocols in general.

    In my opinion, this has always been an issue for all participants. Community “buy in” sounds like making cooperation optional in a scenario and in real life emergencies. (We perform the way we train.) At some point, the whole idea of making IC work along with SEMS and NIMS is that there is a “Chain of Command” and that it must be defined and followed.

    Since I came from the military and para-military background, I have always felt that this was an extremely important part of operating in an emergency.

    • David Flamm says:

      Jeff, I too have struggled with the lack of a top-down approach to doctrine creation in incident management. However, I have come to appreciate and understand the autonomy that various levels of government and Incident management disciplines have in defining their paradigms. I’ve become convinced that the federal government will probably always demure from prescription of wholesale top-to-bottom Incident management doctrine, unless there is “buy-in” for them to do so amongst the leaders of the primary disciplines engaged in the incident management enterprise. This is where I’d like to see organizations like POST, NFPA, IAEM, etc. collaborating to create a cohesive recommendation to the federal government for top-to-bottom wholesale IM doctrine. Thanks for your comments, support, and insights!

  6. Jay McAmis says:

    @Jess Ellis. To better understand the discussion, the term “community” should be defined. For the most part I believe that most practitioners in emergency management accept the idea of a whole community approach. That is not the community that is the subject of David’s thesis imho. The community I believe we are discussing is the world of emergency management, wherein lies conjoined concepts in crisis management, incident management and emergency management. Furthermore, if we desire to solidify the often porous doctrine of these disciplines, that will require “buy in” from often competing points of view. In many cases it’s purely a struggle for resources. One has only to look at the entrenched legal and regulatory hold that crisis and incident managers have on local, state, and federal resources. Emergency management has come late to the party and therefore must work twice as hard to establish legitimacy in the eyes of both the aforementioned community, and the community at large. It will definitely require a high degree of collaboration, but I am confident that necessity will dictate the desired outcome as we grow more sophisticated in our approach to this topic.

  7. David Flamm says:

    Jay makes some great points about the politics inherent to the many disciplines found within public safety. And he also highlights guys intentionally and unintentionally in several ways the inherent lack of consistency in our language. Is EM a smaller part of IM? Is CM only specific to response agencies with widgets? Is IM, CM, and EMs all small parts of a larger EM umbrella? This is an example of where the “porous” doctrine(s) continue to fail us, either by inconsistency, omission, or obfuscation.

  8. David Flamm says:

    As a quick point of fair disclosure, the interviewer, Bijan Karimi, introduced me and mentioned my experience. As part of that experience he mentioned participation in the recent Santa Barbara Co Oil Spill and the major wildfires in Santa Barbara County. While some of the practitioners I interviewed as part of my thesis were involved in those events, and while I participated in smaller wildfires in Santa Barbara County, and wrote a thesis on the Tea Fire, and worked as an oil and gas regulatory EM in SBCo, I was not in Santa Barbara County for those specific events. My “street cred” incidents were actually Super Bowl 50, the Loma Fire, the San Jose President’s Day Presidential flooding declarations, the UCSB school shooting, the White Fire, the 2010/2011 SANTA Barbara Co flooding, Hurricane Katrina, a large brush fire in Idaho, several suspicious package/white powder incidents in the military, aircraft accidents, EMMA deployments, the Bear Fire, various heat events, cold events, etc…

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