LSU Emergency Animal Shelter

Disaster Response Manual

Preparation Primer

Incident Command System (ICS)

The Incident Command System is a standardized management tool for meeting the demands of small or large emergency or non-emergency situations.  It evolved following a series of catastrophic fires in California's urban interface in the 1970s when it was determined that response problems were far more likely to result from inadequate management than from any other single reason.  The ICS represents "best practices" and has become the standard for emergency management in the U.S.

The ICS is a key element of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). As stated in NIMS, “The ICS is a management system designed to enable effective and efficient domestic incident management by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure, designed to enable effective and efficient domestic incident management. A basic premise of ICS is that it is widely applicable. It is used to organize both near-term and long-term field-level operations for a broad spectrum of emergencies, from small to complex incidents, both natural and manmade. ICS is used by all levels of government – federal, state, local, and tribal – as well as by many private-sector and nongovernmental organizations. ICS is also applicable across disciplines. It is normally structured to facilitate activities in five major functional areas: command, operations, planning, logistics, and finance and administration.”

The Incident Command System (ICS) is critical to the success of emergency operations such as this.  All managerial and volunteer personnel involved in an emergency animal shelter should be familiar with ICS

ICS Resource Center Home Page (FEMA)

This is an excellent starting point to learn about the ICS structure. It contains links to the following topics:  

1. ICS Review Document 

This 23-page document provides a concise description of the ICS including definitions, functions, organizational structure, position descriptions, etc.  It is highly recommended. 

2. ICS Training Materials and Opportunities -

The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) offers more than 40 independent study courses for people who have emergency management responsibilities and the general public.  For most courses, you will need to download and print the materials.  Others are interactive and can be taken directly over the internet on the NETC Virtual Campus.  Courses are free-of-charge.

Classroom courses available from the FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI):

  • ICS-100: Introduction to ICS (EMI Course Number: IS100)
  • ICS-200: ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents (EMI Course Number: IS200)
  • ICS-300: Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents (EMI Course Number: G300)
  • ICS-400: Advanced ICS Command and General Staff—Complex Incidents (EMI Course Number: G400)

Independent study courses

Link to FEMA Independent Study Program Course List – 

The following independent study courses may be of particular interest to those involved in emergency animal centers (the course descriptions are taken directly from the FEMA website)

FEMA Independent Study Program:
IS-10 Animals in Disaster, Module A: Awareness and Preparedness

The purpose of this course is two-fold. Module A is intended to increase awareness and preparedness among animal owners and care providers.  It includes sections on typical hazards, how these affect animals and what can be done by responsible owners to reduce the impact of disasters.  It is also intended to help animal owners, care providers and industries to better understand emergency management.  Module A will heighten awareness of the special issues that emergency managers need to consider when incorporating animal-care annexes into their emergency operations plans. 

FEMA Independent Study Program:

IS-11 Animals in Disaster, Module B: Community Planning 

Module B is intended to guide emergency management officials and animal owners, care providers, and industries in preparing community disaster plans.  The goal of Module B is to provide sufficient information for both groups to meet and develop meaningful and effective plans that improve the care of animals, their owners, and the animal-care industries in disasters.  This course provides the basic background knowledge needed to develop a coordinated response to a disaster in which animals and their owners are affected.  Further training with local or State emergency management programs is essential. 

FEMA Independent Study Program:
IS-111 Livestock in Disasters

This independent study course is for farmers, extension agents, emergency managers and others who have interests in the livestock industry. It describes the various hazards that animals can face and how to mitigate them, as well as how to respond to an actual disaster. The livestock industry is a multi-billion dollar business that provides food for the American people as well as those overseas. It is important to insure our livestock are safe from hazards and will not suffer from the effects of hazards. This course can be downloaded from the Independent Study website and the test can be completed and submitted online.

FEMA Independent Study Program:
IS-100 Introduction to Incident Command System, I-100

ICS 100, Introduction to the Incident Command System, introduces the Incident Command System (ICS) and provides the foundation for higher level ICS training. This course describes the history, features and principles, and organizational structure of the Incident Command System. It also explains the relationship between ICS and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

FEMA Independent Study Program:
IS-1 Emergency Manager: An Orientation to the Position

This independent study course provides an introduction to Comprehensive Emergency Management (CEM) and the Integrated Emergency Management System (IEMS).  Included is an in-depth look at the 4 phases of comprehensive emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. The text is accompanied by illustrations, diagrams, and figures. In most units, there are worksheets, exercises, and tasks to complete. 

FEMA Independent Study Program:
IS-244 Developing and Managing Volunteers

This course is for emergency managers and related professionals working with all types of volunteers and coordinating with voluntary agencies. The course provides procedures and tools for building and working with voluntary organizations. Topics include:

  • Benefits and challenges of using volunteers
  • Building a volunteer program
  • Writing job descriptions
  • Developing volunteers through recruitment, placement, training, supervision and evaluation
  • Coordinating with voluntary agencies and community-based organizations
  • Special issues including spontaneous volunteers, liability, and stress

Related Courses (see

  • Incident Command System (ICS) 100 Training: Provides training on and resources for personnel who require a basic understanding of the Incident Command System (ICS).
  • Incident Command System (ICS) 200 Training: Provides training on and resources for personnel who are likely to assume a supervisory position within the Incident Command System (ICS). The primary target audiences are response personnel at the supervisory level.
  • Introduction to the National Incident Management System (NIMS) (IS-700): Provides training on and resources for the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS provides a consistent nationwide template to enable all government, private sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work together during domestic incidents.
  • Introduction to National Response Plan (NRP) (IS-800): Provides training on and resources for the National Response Plan (NRP). The NRP specifies how the resources of the federal government will work in concert with sate, local, and tribal governments and the private sector to respond to incidents of national significance. The NRP is predicated on the National Incident Management System, or NIMS. Together the NRP and the NIMS provide a nationwide framework for working cooperatively to prevent or respond to threats and incidents regardless of cause, size, or complexity.

3. ICS Position Checklists (checklists of roles and responsibilities of ICS positions; can be downloaded as Word or pdf documents): 

ICS Forms -


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