Additional Notes on ICS
Disaster Preparedness Manual
Melissa J. Nixon, DVM

Span of control may be from one to seven, but ideally it should be from two to five. If a span is going to exceed seven, then it is time to split it up into smaller spans. The command tree can be expanded as the incident grows and contracted as demobilization approaches. Some positions may not be needed, and some may need to be expanded to another level.

For instance, any section labeled Small Animal may easily be expanded into Dog and Cat; Large Animal may be expanded into Horse, Ruminant (and then into Cow, Sheep, and Goat), Llama, and Farm Pig; Special may be expanded into Service Animals, Exotics (which may then be split into Potbellied Pigs, Reptiles, Amphibians, Mammals, and Miscellaneous for critters like Tarantulas), Birds (which may then be split into Ratites, Poultry, and Cage Birds), and Wildlife Contact.

We do not rescue, house, or treat wildlife. We keep the Wildlife Contact person on our command tree, and she picks up any stranded wildlife for care at her own facility.

We also do not rescue, house, or treat large predator exotics such as cougars and bears. If people choose to keep these animals hopefully they are licensed through the department of fish and game, have adequate containment, and keep appropriate defensible space. Were one to be running loose in a disaster but recognizable as a privately owned animal, I would contact fish and game as well as the closest zoo to see about emergency capture, transport, and housing.

As written, this particular command tree outline has 210 positions to be filled; do not wait until disaster strikes to fill in a name for at least those positions shown on the chart, and if possible for every position in the fully expanded command tree as developed from the outline. One person may fill more than one position on the tree, and two or more positions may be combined into a single position where appropriate.

Note that the outline includes the immediate supervisor for each position. This ensures unity of command. Each person reports to only one superior.

Resource typing should be applied to volunteers as well as to tangibles and to locations. You may wish to file the resource typing data with a mutual aid group at the state level. Certainly you should hope that other local groups take this step so that their resources could be made available to your group in case of a disaster that exceeds local capabilities to manage.

In California, our group comes under the auspices of the Office of Emergency Services at the local level, and under Department of Food and Agriculture and then OES at the state level.

In a unified command situation, it is unlikely our group would be the lead agency; in our county, it is usually either OES or the California Department of Forestry simply because floods and fires are our most common disaster events.

In a very small incident, the Incident Commander may be the only position filled. The Incident Commander alone or the entire Animal Response Group may function under the designation Animal Coordinator on a SEMS or NIMS Command Tree.

I would recommend taking the FEMA courses IS 100 and IS 200 on ICS, as well as IS 700 and IS 800 on NIMS, to further understand the ins and outs of the Incident Command System and its big brother, the National Incident Management System. Note that in California, SEMS - Standardized Emergency Management System - is used "between" a small local group's ICS and the federal NIMS. Classes in SEMS are available for those in California.

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Melissa J. Nixon, DVM

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