Disaster Management for the Company Officer

Disaster management can be extremely challenging for the company officer. Unfortunately I have seen my share of disasters while deploying on 5 different tornadoes responses. Early on I realized that middle management becomes a very difficult place to work because of the sheer magnitude of many of these disasters. I learned a tip awhile back that really helps with lining out the responsibilities of each crew member so that we fall in line with the National Incident Management System. When you find yourself in a disaster management situation ask yourself these questions.

What’s my job?

This is the first question you should ask in order to define your role in the response.

Who do I work for?

It is very important to define who you work for or who you should report to throughout the operation. This will help disseminate information through the proper channels and reduce the duplication of effort.

Who works for me?

Things will move quickly during the initial stages of a disaster operation. Find out who will be working under you to make sure you have the ability to perform personnel accountability reports and can effectively manage those assigned to work with you.

Where do I get my stuff?

Your assignment can vary greatly and each response may require equipment that is not readily available. You need to find out where to retrieve specialized equipment and how to request additional equipment.

How long do I have?

Defining your operational period will help you understand the time incident command staff believe you should be finished with your assignment. You need to report your status through the proper chain of command and if additional time is needed let your supervisor know what is going on.

In the video below I discuss these topics and how to use the above 5 questions to help you get organized during a disaster response.

About Matt Hinkle

Matt Hinkle is a Staff Instructor at the Mississippi State Fire Academy. He has over twelve years of experience in the fire service and has served in many positions throughout his career including; Firefighter, Lieutenant, Captain, Training Officer and Instructor. He has designed local and state training curriculums, coordinated regional training events, and assisted in the development of national training programs. During his service Matt has received several awards including: Firefighter of the Year (Lafayette County Fire Department), Fire Officer of the Year Finalist (MS Burn Association), Medal of Valor (MS Burn Association), and a Letter of Commendation (City of Oxford). Matt has received over 2,000 hours of technical training in many disciplines including: NFPA 1001-I-II (Firefighter I-II), NFPA 1002 (Driver/Operator), NFPA 1041-I-II (Instructor), Hazardous Materials Technician I-II, Rope Rescue Technician I-II, Confined Space Rescue Technician, Trench Rescue Technician, Vehicle Extrication I-II, Search and Rescue Technician I-II-III, EMT-B, and Cave Rescue I-II.

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