"The Georgia Emergency Management Agency sponsors several different types of training. Recently, we just completed a set of courses that was financed through Homeland Security," Cartersville Fire Chief Scott Carter said. "We just finalized a series on National Instant Management Systems. We hosted and taught [courses in] the 300, which is the senior officer, and the 400, which is the executive officer [levels]."
Marking the first anniversary of the death of noted terrorist Osama Bin Laden on Monday and the fear of a retaliatory attack on the U.S., as well as continued preparation for disasters such as the tornado that affected Bartow last April, the NIMS training helps emergency personnel and law enforcement stay current with changing regulations and plans.
"In the fire service for many, many years we always use what is called an Instant Command-type system," Carter said. "This is disaster instant management. A disaster is anything that overwhelms your local resources. [The course] taught us how to plan, how to do what we call an instant action plan. We plan out before the operational period what we anticipate the problems to be [and] how we're going to attack these problems. It gets into allocation of resources identifying those resources and attempting to attain them and it's just a system for us to use on instant management."
Beginning post 9/11, the NIMS system, initially, was a presidential directive to formalize management systems across the nation to have all emergency personnel operating the same way.
"If I have someone come from out of state to assist me here in Cartersville with a local disaster, they would understand that we would be operating the same way as far as instant management was concerned," Carter said.
Bartow County Fire Chief Craig Millsap described knowledge gained from educational sessions as a guide for a variety of situations.
"Basically it's a framework that you can apply to any disaster, any call, anything that public safety agencies respond to," Millsap said. "The way it is designed is where it can be expanded up to as big [of] an incident as you want -- up to a world trade center scale event. Since that time there has been the big push to where everyone all the way up through the stakeholders in immediate government would be called up during anything like when we have our snow responses or tornadoes hit. That includes public safety and public works, infrastructure people, they're involved in this.
"There's different levels but that way everybody understands what's going on [and] the big picture and where they fit into that framework. They can plug right into it if you tell them you're going to be in this division as this [and] they would know exactly where they're following into it and the thing is it leaves that freedom for each individual to exercise so different people could follow a different role but the roles will be the same."
Carter agreed with Millsap's vision of the concept, noting that the plans created can apply to holiday events as well.
"We actually use the NIMS principles when we're planning for events like the Fourth of July," Carter said. "We sit down and go through a planning phase using the NIMS principles and do an instant action plan well before the event even occurs. The framework that we use on the Fourth of July is the exact same framework that we'd use if tornadoes came through the community. So, it allows us to practice using these instant management principles before the incident actually occurs. It's part of our requirement but it helps us work more efficiently."