The Guidelines on the Incident Response System (IRS) are issued by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) under Section 6 of the DM Act, 2005 for effective, efficient and comprehensive management of disasters in India. The vision is to minimize loss of life and property by strengthening and standardising the disaster response mechanism in the country.
Though India has been successfully managing disasters in thepast, there are still a number of shortcomings which need to be addressed. Theresponse today has to be far more comprehensive, effective, swift and wellplanned based on a well-conceived response mechanism.
Realisation of certain shortcomings in our response system and a desire to address the critical gaps led the Government of India (GoI) to look at the world’s best practices. The GoI found that the system evolved for firefighting in California is very comprehensive and thus decided to adopt Incident Command System (ICS).
In view of the provisions of the DM Act, 2005, NDMA felt thatauthoritative Guidelines on the subject, with necessary modifications to suitthe Indian administrative setup, were essential. To meet this need, a coregroup of experts was constituted and four regional consultation workshops wereconducted. It was ensured that representatives of the State Governments and MHAparticipate and their views given due consideration. Training Institutes likethe LBSNAA, NIDM and various RTIs / ATIs along with National core trainers alsoparticipated. The adaptation of ICS by other countries was also examined. Thedraft prepared was again sent to all States, UTs and their final comments wereobtained and incorporated. A comprehensive set of Guidelines has thus beenprepared and is called the Incident Response System (IRS).
Definition and Context
The Incident Response System (IRS) is an effective mechanism for reducing thescope for ad-hoc measures in response. It incorporates all the tasks that maybe performed during DM irrespective of their level of complexity. It envisagesa composite team with various Sections to attend to all the possible responserequirements. The IRS identifies and designates officers to perform variousduties and get them trained in their respective roles. If IRS is put in placeand stakeholders trained and made aware of their roles, it will greatly help inreducing chaos and confusion during the response phase. Every one will knowwhat needs to be done, who will do it and who is in command, etc. IRS is aflexible system and all the Sections, Branches and Units need not be activatedat the same time. Various Sections, Branches and Units need to be activatedonly as and when they are required.
The main purpose of these Guidelines is to lay down the rolesand responsibilities of different functionaries and stakeholders, at State andDistrict levels and how coordination with the multi-tiered institutionalmechanisms at the National, State and District level will be done. It alsoemphasises the need for proper documentation of various activities for betterplanning, accountability and analysis. It will also help new responders toimmediately get a comprehensive picture of the situation and go in for immediateaction.
The IRS organisation functions through Incident Response Teams (IRTs) in thefield. In line with our administrative structure and DM Act 2005, ResponsibleOfficers (ROs) have been designated at the State and District level as overallin charge of the incident response management. The RO may however delegateresponsibilities to the Incident Commander (IC), who in turn will manage theincident through IRTs. The IRTs will be pre-designated at all levels; State,District, Sub-Division and Tehsil/Block. On receipt of Early Warning, the ROwill activate them. In case a disaster occurs without any warning, the localIRT will respond and contact RO for further support, if required. A NodalOfficer (NO) has to be designated for proper coordination between the District,State and National level in activating air support for response.
Apart from the RO and Nodal Officer (NO), theIRS has two main components; a) Command Staff and b) General Staff as shown inthis Fig
The Command Staff consists of Incident Commander (IC), Information & MediaOfficer (IMO), Safety Officer (SO) and Liaison Officer (LO). They reportdirectly to the IC and may have assistants. The Command Staff may or may nothave supporting organisations under them. The main function of the CommandStaff is to assist the IC in the discharge of his functions.
The General Staff has three components which are as follows;
Operations Section (OS)
The OS is responsible for directing the required tactical actions to meetincident objectives. Management of disaster may not immediately requireactivation of Branch, Division and Group. Expansion of the OS depends on theenormity of the situation and number of different types and kinds of functionalGroups required in the response management.
Planning Section (PS)
The PS is responsible for collection, evaluation and display of incidentinformation, maintaining and tracking resources, preparing the Incident ActionPlan (IAP) and other necessary incident related documentation. They will assessthe requirement of additional resources, propose from where it can be mobilisedand keep IC informed. This Section also prepares the demobilisation plan.
Logistics & FinanceSection (L&FS)
The L&FS is responsible for providing facilities, services, materials,equipment and other resources in support of the incident response. The SectionChief participates in development and implementation of the IAP, activates andsupervises Branches and Units of his section. In order to ensure prompt andsmooth procurement and supply of resources as per financial rules, the FinanceBranch has been included in the LS.
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