SMEM and ICS Training for Comms Pros

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If you work in U.S. emergency management, particularly at the local, county or state level, you are probably already aware of the fine courses provided at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute – both the brick-and-mortar schoolhouse in the Maryland panhandle, and via their online presence. I’ve taken several courses at the school over the years, have served as an subject matter expert advisor to the development of a public information course and have completed several of the online courses available.

If you’re not aware, EMI provides a LOT of free independent study training modules online that can get you smart on social media in emergency management (#SMEM, on social media) and the incident command system (ICS). The courses are free and open to anyone.

The Social Media in Emergency Management course takes about 90 minutes to complete. It consists of information shared in short snippets on the screen, links to more in-depth coverage of particular points and well-produced videos that present social media lessons learned and best practices during disasters from around the world. There are learning points for public information officers or communications pros who are already familiar with SMEM. More importantly, it’s a great course to recommend to leadership when diving into official social media usage.

The ICS, in its original form, was created by the Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies collective (FIRESCOPE). FIRESCOPE started as a joint interagency wildland fire task force, comprised of local, state and federal agency personnel, which came together to solve problems managing and responding to wildfires. One of FIRESCOPE’s goals was to create systematic guidelines to make it easier for people from different agencies to work together, which is how ICS was born in the 1970s.

ICS lead to the creation, in the early 80s, of the National Interagency Incident Management System, or NIIMS. NIIMS formally adopted the ICS management doctrine for wildland fire management and applied it to other incident management scenarios. It was the birth of all-hazard national training and doctrine, which has evolved to what it is today in the U.S.

Since ICS is the common operational management system used by all levels of government across the country, it would behoove anyone who is a) in government or, b) could work with someone in government, to learn the basics before the next disaster strikes.

To learn the basics of the system, I recommend EMI’s Introduction to Incident Command System and ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents. For crisis communicators who may need more in-depth knowledge of how ICS works for your profession during incident response, try the Public Information Officer AwarenessEffective Communication and/or National Incident Management System Public Information Systems courses. Again, they’re all web-based, free and available to anyone. If you’ve never been involved in incident response, you’ll be ahead of the game when and if you are.

If you’re looking for facility/profession-specific courses, or courses that give varying levels of detail in incident response or specific hazards, I recommend taking a quick look through EMI’s complete independent study course catalog.

Talk to me, Goose.

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