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Incident Command System and the Concept of Unified Command at a Terrorist Incident

NCJ Number
John Kane
Date Published
9 pages

This paper discusses the Incident Command System and the concept of Unified Command at a terrorist incident.


The paper claims that local officials and agencies, despite what they may claim, are not prepared to cope with a terrorist incident. Line police officers and firefighters have not participated in actual drills together, which is the only way they can learn to function as a team in a critical incident. Similarly, building managers and managers of facilities such as sports arenas and shopping malls have for the most part received no training on how to assist police and fire in trying to handle a large-scale critical incident in their facility. The Incident Command System (ICS) has been almost universally adopted as the method of rapidly organizing a response to a critical incident. If all participants are using the same eight critical jobs in the ICS to manage their agency, the agencies' cooperative effort will increase dramatically. Incident Command during a terrorist incident is a cooperative effort involving the local fire department, local law enforcement, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The paper highlights the importance of understanding at the local level that, once the FBI has assumed command, they will still need continued support and assistance from local law enforcement and fire agencies.