NIMS Support Center

In 2004, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to provide a consistent nationwide template to enable governments and responders to work together effectively and efficiently to manage incidents and planned events.

To support NIMS implementation, DHS established the NIMS Support Center (NIMS SC) in 2005 – a program that operated under a Cooperative Agreement between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Justice and Safety Center/ Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). The NIMS SC provided direct support to the Incident Management Systems Division (IMSD) of FEMA’s National Integration Center (NIC).

The NIMS SC was designed to develop new first responder tools, enhance technology integration and evaluate and report on products and standards to improve incident management and information sharing throughout the first responder community.

The program provides products and services in the following areas:

·         Compliance & Technical Assistance

·         Resource Management

·         Standards & Product Evaluations

·         Training & Exercises

·         Guidance Documents & Job Aids

COMPLIANCE & TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

NIMS Compliance Assistance Support Tool

The NIMS Compliance Assistance Support Tool (NIMSCAST) is a free, web-based instrument that allows governmental, nongovernmental, and private sector organizations to self-assess and report their progress on NIMS implementation activities. The NIMSCAST continues to advance through the development of user-specific content and functionality. For more information, visit: http://www.fema.gov/nimcast

NIMS Inbox

NIMS SC analysts responded to questions and managed the activities of the NIMS inbox. Other duties included providing feedback to e-mail and telephone inquiries made by the emergency response community concerning their NIMS information needs. The NIMS SC team also provided IMSD with activity status reports and insights concerning the NIMS inbox.

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Incident Resource Inventory System

The Incident Resource Inventory System (IRIS) is a free database management tool that allows communities to insert NIMS Typed Resources and provide a means to quickly assess these resources to support emergency response operations. The tool provides a standard national resource typed database that is available to support local, state, and regional response operations.

Although housed locally, resources stored in IRIS may be shared with other response organizations. The tool should improve the capability to identify, mobilize and dispatch a typed resource in support of a specific mission. For more information or to acquire this tool for your use, visit: http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/ResourceMngmnt.shtm#item5

STANDARDS & PRODUCT EVALUATIONS   

NIMS Standards

The NIMS SC identified standards to provide a benchmark for measuring program and operational performance, and to ensure that communications and information management systems are interoperable. The NIMS SC supported standards identification through a rigorous process, which included objective and subjective evaluations by subject matter experts and reviews by practitioners. Through this process, IMSD has recommended a series of interoperability standards supporting preparedness and incident management.

NIMS Supporting Technology Evaluation Program (STEP)

The NIMS Supporting Technology Evaluation Program (NIMS STEP) is designed to provide independent, objective evaluations of commercial and governmental products against NIMS concepts and principles. The program is designed to assist in the implementation of the NIMS, and to enhance interoperable emergency communications and information management systems in support of a common operating picture in the field. Evaluation activities are designed to help create a uniform level of compliance, expand interoperable solutions, and provide the emergency response community with an objective process to evaluate their purchases.

The primary benefit to emergency management/first responders includes a list of product descriptions and key capabilities based on results of an objective evaluation. This information is shared through the RKB web site at https://www.rkb.us.   

TRAINING & EXERCISES

Exercise Simulation System

The Exercise Simulation System (ESS) is designed to improve exercises and the planning and coordination capabilities of emergency managers and responders, elected officials, and other stakeholders at all levels of government. The system provides a readily-available environment that may be leveraged for developing scenarios, objectives, and injects to test incident management capabilities.

The community information in the ESS is presented in multiple formats, such as text, tables, organizational charts, and static and interactive Geographical information System (GIS)-based maps. The ESS interactive maps provide users with an extensive library of GIS functions and information to facilitate planning and decision making processes. This feature allows instructors and students to customize maps so they display only the relevant portions of the State of Columbia, Liberty County, and Central City, as well as the pertinent infrastructure and resources needed for a specific scenario. For example, users may be able to locate and display all roads, utilities, hospitals, and shelters within a specified radius of the incident location to assist with planning. Similarly, the ESS provides users with a list of organizations in a given geographic area that may be deployed to support the incident response effort.

The ESS environment may be used to challenge exercise participants to create situational awareness, respond to exercise injects, and make incident- and community-level decisions. The ESS is currently used by the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) Integrated Emergency Management (IEM) Section.

Simulated Emergency Operations Center and Simulation Cell

The SEOC is a state-of-the-art facility capable of providing training, exercise, and real-world support to local, state, regional and federal entities responsible for emergency management. The SEOC can replicate a variety of incidents through the use of simulation modeling, and is capable of presenting local, multi-jurisdictional, or national scenarios in real-time during exercises. The Simulation Cell (SIMCELL) allows controllers and evaluators to monitor the exercise and respond to requests from the participants. Among other capabilities, the SEOC provides users with: Executive decision-making and break out rooms; as well as, video, web and telephone conferencing capabilities.

GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS & JOB AIDS

Guidance Documents and Job Aids

The NIMS SC supported the exchange of best practices and developed guides and job aids for emergency responders. Among those documents is the Emergency Responder Field Operating Guide (ERFOG), which aids emergency responders in the use and application of the NIMS Incident Command System during operations. The NIMS SC also provided other publications, including an ICS Forms booklet, and a basic guidance document for Public Information Officers. NIMS-related publications can be found on the FEMA web site at: http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nims