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ICS Instruction Tips and Tricks ICS
300 & 400
(blend of workshop handouts and workshop
comments captured on flip chart and added upon
by experiences of subsequent years)
Created at the New York State Office of
Emergency Management
Instructors Workshop March 28-30, 2011
Presentation Tips
1-CLASS IAP: Instructors Goals:
A. Use IAP to implement orderly class
organization & presentation
B. Familiarize students with a written IAP,
the forms in it, and its functions
Most ICS students in New York have rarely, if ever, held a real IAP in their hands. So make the class
syllabus into an IAP. One multiday IAP. One 202, one 203 and then 204’s for each day and two 214
Activity Logs for students to provide review input for first two days. The IAP is used at a minimum
each morning during the first 15 minutes of class during an Operational Period briefing for each day
of the class. I also use it throughout the day as a reference point for work progress. (Are we ahead
or behind the class schedule of modules as planned?). On the 202 write overall objectives related
to the class (Safety of all incident personnel, an overall objective of meeting each of the individual
unit objectives, an objective about returning facilities to pre-incident condition and an objective to
ensure completion of registration and testing materials to enable successful students to receive
course certificates from NY OEM. Put a three day weather forecast in its place, and also have a
general safety message which usually addresses classroom safety hazards and evacuation
procedures. On the 203 identify the lead instructor as the IC. If there is a point contact for the
facility identify them as the Agency Rep. Show the unit instructors as Group Supervisors in the
Operations Section. The 204’s per day list the unit name/number, the Group Supervisors name (the
unit instructor) and the start and ending time of the unit. Showing the classroom on the IAP as
Drop Point 1 is also a good way to lead in to a discussion of the benefits of using DP’s.
Presentation Tips
Instructors Goals:
C. Treat the class as an ICS managed incident of which an OP briefing is a
fundamental part
D. In I300 we are teaching them to do OP Briefings. Why not let them see one
every day for the incident they are currently assigned to (ICS class).
E. Give students chance to practice doing an OP briefing before they have to do it
as part of the big final exercise
Start off every day with an OP briefing. Post the briefing agenda on a flip chart sheet on the
wall. Go through every step using both the agenda and IAP as a reference: Current situation,
objectives, weather forecast for the OP using current weather pred. data, assignments for the
OP, safety, logistics, finance, Information, Liaison issues, AREP if present (often the host unit has
a person there in the morning, esp first morning) and IC close meeting close out message. On
the third day of an I300 class for purposes of the OP briefing select students from the class to fill
the “IMT roles” (or use one of the teams you have established for the work groups) and have
them do the briefing and coach them as needed. Now they have some “hands on” practice
before they have to do it as a part of the lesson plan and can more closely relate to the lecture
about “how” the OP briefing is done.
Operational Period Briefing Agenda
Displayed on Flip Chart Pad sheet
Current Situation- OSC
Objectives – PSC or IC
Predictive Info / Technical Info(Weather, modeling) – PSC or
Assignments (Ground/Air)– OSC
Safety – SOF
Logistics – LSC
Finance – FSC
Information – PIO
Liaison Information - LOF
Agency Comments - Agency Reps
Close Out - IC
Presentation Tips
Instructor Goals:
F-Form work teams of the students that have good diversity of experience
G-Begin team building
Have students introduce themselves once they are formed into work teams for the class. Start by opening the class,
welcoming the students, doing Instructor introductions. Then move into the process of breaking the students into work
groups, having them re-organize the classroom into team tables, and then (once in their teams at their tables) having them
do their personal introductions. Then basically go into an Operational Period briefing to give them the rest of the overall
class orientation information. Laura gave us a great tip at a NYSOEM Instructor Workshop two years ago about posting
signs around the room and having students go to the sign that best reflects their backgrounds. Use questions like “I have
had I100/I200 but have never used ICS on a real incident”(low experience end) up to “I am a member of (or will become a
member of) a local Type 3 IMT” (medium experience end), “I have served as a Command & General Staff member on
multiple multi-day incidents managed under ICS” (high experience end)….. If you plan on having 4 work teams you usually
wind up with one group of people standing under one of those signs that is anywhere from 3-5….. so start the 1,2,3,4
“countoff with that group and magically you have broken the class into a very diversified level of experience that is often
very diversified in agency affiliation as well!
As above, Idon’t have the students introduce themselves until they have been sorted into these teams. Once they count
off I have them move into their team tables and get set up and then ask them to introduce themselves. When they
introduce themselves I ask them to include what ICS roles they played in their past experiences—not just “I was on 911”
what did you DO in ICS terms? Have the students stand when they introduce themselves (hey being overhead on a T3
incident has a lot to do with presentation skills-get them practicing!!).
When people introduce themselves once they are in their teams they pay more attention to the background and skills,
especially of their team members. It starts the team building process. Much more effective that just going around the
room and having people intro themselves when you have no idea WHO YOU will be working with!
It also gives the instructors a real good chance to size up the overall skills and backgrounds represented within each
Presentation Tips
Other General Tips Some Instructors
Use ICS forms
• Remember Check In is a process – don’t just put a blank
ICS-211 on a table and expect students to fill it out right.
Assign a cadre member to DO check-in. Perhaps use that
check-in to make class T-Cards using all the check in data
• Use T cards for class
• Assign Food Unit to procure lunch
• Handout or have available example IAP’s but make sure
they are GOOD IAP’s
• Assign positions to work team members (IC, OSC, PSC, etc.)
• This is a chance for future buy in from students to use ICS –
so draw information about students from their own
introductions to use real world examples of ICS in use
Presentation Tips
• Pull up FEMA website on their national Kind & Type resources lists so
students can see there are actually being done and use them. Or print
them out
• GHOST pneumonic - Goals(Holistic) Objectives Strategies Tactics
• Remember ICS is just a tool in the toolbox – 95% (if not more) of incidents
are handled during the first operational period – This course focuses on
the remaining 5% (or less) of incidents that go into extended actions.
• We teach NIMS ICS. Some agencies may do things differently by agency
policy (eg. US Coast Guard) and sometimes students have gotten
experience and developed “habits” that are not quite correct about ICS
procedures/implementation. We are here to teach the NIMS version so
that can produce good productive discussions in the class
• Use the new “Planning Process” DVD that was created by EMI for the
position specific courses. This video highlights each step of the Planning P
process and does it very realistically.
Presentation Tips
Using the Planning P (EMI) DVD & the Old “The
Planning Process for All Hazard Incidents”(NWCG) DVD
• Although a good first effort the old “Planning Process for All Hazard
Incidents” (NWCG) it has some drawbacks
– The example incident is a wildland fire incident
– The Planning Meeting and the Operational Period Briefing both occur in the
same room and no one is there for the Operational Period Briefing other than
the IMT – Where are the people being briefed? Gives the wrong impression!
• The new Planning P DVD (EMI) presents a more modern way of describing
the Tactics Meeting. It portrays a less formal discusion Tactics Meeting
than the tradition manner, and advocates the final completion of the
215/215A as part of the “preparing for the planning meeting” portion of
the Planning P. You can explain both ways of doing it. Both work fine.
• The EMI DVD depicts a Haz Mat incident and is a very good example when
used with the Crescent City Derailment incident for Units 3, 4, 5 & 6
Presentation Tips
Using the New Planning P DVD & the Old “The Planning
Process for All Hazard Incidents” DVD
• Recommended DVD parts by I300 Units
– Unit 3 (FEMA Unit 4) - Use EMI DVD - Show the
Agency Admin Briefing and the IAIC Briefing segments
– Unit 4 (FEMA Unit 3)–Use EMI DVD – Show the UC
Meeting segment
– Unit 5 (FEMA Unit 6)– Use the EMI DVD – You may
want to show the Initial Strategy and Info Sharing
segment before you start any lecture in this Unit.
– Unit 6 (FEMA Unit 5)– Use the EMI DVD to show the
Tactics Meeting, Preparing for the Planning Meeting,
the Planning Meeting and the Operational Period
Briefing segments
I300 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 2 – the air crash exercise:
Generally students seem to tend to organize response to the air crash in
functional branches based upon fire / rescue / police lines. It is beneficial to
make sure folks have a geographic organization solution to this exercise though
to discuss. About halfway thru their exercise talk to at least one group about
the concept of breaking into two or three divisions each led by a division
supervisor with multi-agency resources working under them – perhaps
organized into task forces. The key talking points that deserve some special
focus are:
Inherent geographic nature of most incidents
Unity of Command (with a branch or disciplinary functional structure you
potentially have three resources standing side by side each dealing with the
same issue happening right in front of them each having to answer to a
different supervisor.
Span of Control – task forces to assemble multiple types and kinds of
resources together and keep within span of control
I300 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 3(FEMA Unit 4)–Assessment and Objectives
Always keep in mind that the exercise in Unit 3 was mostly directed at
policy/guidance that IC’s use to develop objectives and at the students writing some
good SMART objectives. Ideally their created objectives could carry forward for the
rest of the practicals. You can assign each team of students to write an objective
about 1 specific Objective topic (Safety, Geographic Confines, Major Action and
Environmental, Information, Stakeholder Impacts)
It is helpful to give them a Delegation of Authority (which by the way was covered in
I200 ON LINE) so they basically usually have no idea what a delegation of authority
really is. You need to address it…. use of the term “contract” to describe DOA and
make reference as to how it makes so much sense under NY Home Rule….. the
county exec gives their IC (whether a regular employee or someone brought in) the
authority to manage the incident / event with the understanding they work directly
for the county exec.
Students often want to start get pretty tactical in their discussions about writing
objectives during this exercise. Try to bring them back to just answering the
questions posed in the practical. We have to decide on some good objectives before
we can think about strategies and tactics. We are not trying to solve this problem
tactically here, mostly we are looking for them to come up with 3-5 good objectives.
I300 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 3(FEMA Unit 4) –Assessment
and Objectives
Typically I find students wanting to write objectives here that are at best strategies and often
tactics….. during the lecture I try to discuss with them the top five overall objectives topics that
are common on expanding incidents…… A Safety objective that covers both responders and
public, an objective that describes the hoped for outer perimeter of an incident (describe the
field of play), an objective that addresses the major action to be done, an objective that
addresses public information and an objective that covers cost accountability or cost
containment or both. I also tell them that other options for additional objectives include the
topics of protection of resources (natural or cultural or economic, or all of the above) or
another “major action” related objective.
This first exercise was intended for the class to develop some good objectives that can be used
in the future exercises that involve strategic or tactical action for this scenario, and eventually
to be the objectives written on the 202 form of their IAP done during the Unit 6 exercise. We
want them to use the several of the best objectives the class developed on their own in Unit 3.
I300 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 4(FEMA Unit 3) –Unified
Great progress has been made in this area statewide, and there are less
“fights in the parking lot” on the incident these days about who is to be in
the UC. Recent Irene and Sandy incidents have helped folks understand
ICS better.
NIMS focus’ on table tops and simulations that bring us all together before
the real thing. This is the time to work through UC issues!!!!!
In the exercise brief out, let students list all the possible Unified Command
entities and then vet their responses. Highlight which agencies should
have Agency Reps vs. IC’s
I300 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 5 (FEMA Unit 6) –Resource Management
A Really Great Tip
• The examples in the lecture powerpoint use a Snow
Storm incident.
• During the lecture you can use this incident
progressively to demonstrate the processes of ICS
– Write Objectives for the Storm
– Discuss Operations organization (Groups / Divisions)
– Use 215 / 215A to develop work assignments and
resources needed
– Produce a ICS 204 Assignment List for the Parking Lot
Group (this is a good use of a wall sized mounted 204 you
can write on)
I300 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 5(FEMA Unit 6) –Incident Resource
Emphasize that early portions of this unit are reinforcing fundamentals….. single resources, strike
teams, task forces, divisions vs groups etc. Span of control issues…… We want them during the lecture
to recognize how these tools fit together.
Take the “mystery” out of the ICS215 / 215A start by describing them simply as spreadsheets…. They
are just columns and rows and if you treat them sequentially it works pretty easy. Emphasize the left
column being done first (Division or Group or other Location) then moving into filling out the work
assignments…. What will be done in this geographic area or functional role. Include enough words that
describe the actions to be taken…. Not just very general or single word bullets.
During the lecture we gather all the class around one set of 215/215A and a map of a generic town and
go through the process of doing the 215’s for the Winter Storm example in the book.
At the end of the unit have them complete a 215/215A using the my more modernized and complete
ICS 201 for CC Hazmat… prepared by IAIC Ralph Wilkens at 0920. Just put on the 215 what must
Wilkens must have planned to make the assignments that he did.
The better job they do on the 215 exercise the better the rest of the course exercises will go.
I300 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 6 (FEMA Unit 5) – The Planning
If students have developed good objectives for the Crescent City incident
in Unit 3 you should use them as the objectives for this exercise. Make
sure you brief students on this so they don’t start the exercise confused.
Not a bad idea to consolidate the best 3-5 objectives the groups have
created and give them to them to use (the objectives in the textbook for
this exercise are NOT SMART!!! and really suck!)
• Unless you have students who have a lot of experience in using written
IAP’s they are really going to get confused if you try to expand the incident
during this exercise. A good option is the following:
– In Unit 5 they had a Tactics Meeting and developed a ICS 215/215A for the
initial action phase of this incident. You may give them a little more
information or resources to add to the ICS 215 they already built and just have
them continue on in the Planning P and produce an IAP for those resources.
– After they prepare an IAP have them present an Operational Period Briefing
using their IAP. If you can make multiple copies it is great. But make sure they
brief using their IAP following the Operational Period Briefing agenda that is
posted on the wall.
I300 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 7 – Transition & Close Out
We know the class is winding down, but don’t be tempted to just blow this unit off!
The idea in the mind of the curriculum cadre that re-worked this current version was that
students would have the experience of bringing the entire ICS process into expanded incident
status and then “winding it back down” as the incident scales down. And that is why it is
placed AFTER the big planning process practical.
At the very least ensure students understand the five components of a Demobilization Plan
(test question)
The concept of priorities as part of demob addresses priorities for release of resources from
the incident during the active management or during the winding down portion…. Eg. Are
local first responders the priority to release so they can return to normal first response
duties? Are there contract issues that dictate who gets released first or last?
Remember to discuss that if actions are continuing another IMT may just be starting back on
the stem of the Planning P and getting ready to transfer command with you!
If the incident is closing out there are things that have to be done…. Transfer of documents to
responsible agency, continued needs for contract management, rehabilitation needs that
need to be identified, etc.
I400 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 2 – Review Unit
• Unit 2 of 400 is intended as a review, but a review of higher
level issues than just the basic ICS structure.
• The concept in development of Unit 2 was that the
students instruct themselves instead of another
“powerpoint lecture”. Given that the students must come
up with the correct answers to their questions. Ensure they
are using the wealth of reference materials in their student
workbook when they are formulating those answers.
• Since this is the only instruction they get in this unit (from
each other) it is critical that instructors correct any wrong
or incomplete information they give when they report out.
If you as an instructor just “let it slide” then the other
students assume it is absolutely correct.
I400 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 3 – Major Incident Management
• It is important for students to understand these are methods for really
huge incident management. By and large these techniques are not
adopted for Type 4 and Type 3 incidents they may be more familiar with.
• During the practical it is recommended that each team of students be
directed to use one of the techniques described in the lecture. One team
keeps the 3 incidents independent, one team does a complex, one team
does branch tactical planning and one team does management by
establishing two operations sections. The fact is the incidents given in the
book are not complex enough to even use these techniques other than
choosing to manage these 3 type 3 incidents under a “complex”.
• By having them use all four methods you can lead the discussions during
the brief outs to compare each method for differences…. Eg. Keeping
them all as separate incidents requires 3 separate, complete IAP’s,
requires 3 IMT’s to be staffed and going through the whole Planning P
process, makes sharing of critical resources more cumbersome….
I400 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 4 – Area Command
I have added some pictures and information to my lecture on this subject that
stress the incident management perspective of Area Command vs. an on scene IC,
and some pictures of an Area Command team (7 people) taken off the internet. It
helps give perspective to the students that this is something used for an incident
like Hurricane Katrina not your routine Type 3 incidents.
This unit is a really good segway into the MACC Group unit to follow. If you clearly
show the difference between Area Command (with Delegation of Authority and
Command responsibility) vs. MACC functions of external support and policy
direction vs. actual command, the next unit is easy.
Best example of an Area Command need for the future in New York State…. Well,
just use what is already out there in real life. Probably the most likely Area
Command scenario in NY is for a Cat 4 hurricane to cross Long Island, continue up
the Connecticut River valley and even impact the Hudson Valley with torrential
rains and flooding. FEMA would likely respond in the same manner in which they
responded to Katrina. That is why I use some Katrina graphics in my additions to
the lecture slides.
The new FEMA curriculum for Unit 4 has some very good improvements to the
slides as well as good examples of “community based” Area Command utilization.
I400 Various Tips by Unit
Unit 5 – Multi Agency Coordination
• Biggest thing here is to reinforce the concept that the
MAC entity and its associated EOC are NOT COMMAND
but are there to provide policy guidance, delegate
authority to on-scene commanders if needed, and
provide support (a single point resource ordering
dispatch) and information and coordination to the
incidents under their umbrella. The MACC may have to
prioritize available resources (in absence of Area
Command) to the incidents under their umbrella.
• You might identify how many EOC’s nationwide are
starting to rename themselves as “coordination
centers” to help reduce confusion about terminology
and role of EOC’s

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