Flipside Incident Command System
Introduction: Why ICS?
Burning Flipside has grown from a 30-person event to an event comprising nearly 3,000 participants, 69 Leads, and a host of volunteer and infrastructure resources. Many of these departments are focused on maintaining the safety of the event and have volunteers on-call 24/7.
Just like a city of similar size in the default world, Pyropolis is subject to the same risks of natural or human-caused incidents that may result in damage or loss of property, injury, or death. It is therefore important to establish a system of response to successfully manage these incidents when they occur.
Part I: What is ICS?
The Incident Command System is a tool used by default-world Emergency Services to manage emergencies requiring the coordination of several departments or agencies.
The strengths of ICS are in its ease of learning, its modularity, and its focus on roles and responsibilities.
It is easy to learn the basics of the ICS template in less than ten minutes. The ICS template (aka ‘the toolbox’) can expand or contract appropriately based on the complexity of an incident. ICS is a system in which control over chaos is established because everyone involved is playing by the same rules, from the IC to the individual responders. Incidents therefore can be managed successfully, minimizing further risk to responders and maintaining order and organization.
Each incident is overseen by an Incident Commander (IC), who manages the overall response and makes informed decisions on what actions to take based on the feedback of the involved departments and their inherent expertise in the matter.
Flipside’s Safety departments form the core of the IC’s Toolbox; they represent specialized resources that can be utilized to resolve the incident. Just like a standard toolbox, not every tool will need to be used for every incident, yet it is important for potential Incident Commanders to know what is available and how they can be applied.
Part II: Basic Composition of ICS
The table below illustrates the basic Chain of Command for ICS. The goal of the Flipside ICS program is to educate as many people as possible in this simple diagram, and to develop a working knowledge of what it means and how it is used in the event an incident at the event.
At its most basic, ICS is a chain of command whereby all volunteer departments report to the IC to resolve an incident.
Next, we’ll briefly touch on how the IC, AAR and the Volunteer Departments operate within ICS.
The final Part of Basic Flipside ICS: “Where Do I Fit In?”will outline how individual volunteers can help, summarized by four simple rules:
- Get Your Shirt
- Report to the IC
- Know Your Role
- Don’t Freelance
The Incident Commander (IC)
The IC (Incident Commander) is a manager, not a doer. This can be tough for a lot of people whose innate sense is to focus on helping an acute aspect of an incident.
The IC is responsible for the Big Picture, not for each individual detail of the incident. Therefore, a good IC understands the tools available to them to manage the incident, and delegates them appropriately.
The IC is never alone. There can be a misconception that the IC must make every critical decision to manage an emergency. This is simply not true. The IC makes an educated decision based on the feedback of experts he or she consults regarding the incident (AAR and the departmental reps operating in the incident).
The IC and the department managers work together to resolve the incident safely for responders, victims, and any bystanders.
The AAR member on call, aka “Flipside Actual”
AAR works with the IC in an incident as a supplemental managerial resource, and also as the chief entity that will interface with outside authorities not directly responding to the incident (i.e. media, law enforcement, etc).
Think of the IC as generally looking inward to focus on the incident and the event, and AAR as generally looking outward to focus on the outside influences that will be affecting the event.
One AAR member will typically remain at the IC’s side during a major incident while the rest may convene elsewhere to cooperate with responding agencies.
The major volunteer departments at Flipside represent resources to be utilized during an incident. They can also be understood as the IC’s “tool box.”
- Site Ops
- Ancillary Departments
In smaller incidents, the IC will identify tasks for each department’s volunteers and assign them appropriately.
For example, the IC may tell Ranger Mittens: “Ranger Mittens, help clear the road so the PETs can take the patient to the Gate.”
In more complex incidents the IC may delegate departmental operations to a Department Supervisor, who will then be in charge of that department’s operations for the incident; they will identify tasks related to their department and assign volunteers appropriately. Departmental Supervisors continue to check in with the IC to provide updates on tasks and other information.
For example, the IC may say: “Ranger Mittens, you’re the most knowledgeable Ranger here; will you please manage any incoming Rangers to establish a Perimeter around the incident, have one escort the ambulances down, and assign any other Ranger-specific tasks? I’d like a status update in five minutes.
Part III: “Where Do I Fit In?” – Flipside Volunteer Response
The success of ICS and the safe resolution of an incident depend largely on cooperation amongst everyone who is responding to the incident. This means that everyone is playing by the same rules and is following the same chain of command.
To this end, Flipside is taking a Four-Step approach to educate its volunteers in regards to incidents that occur at Flipside.
Step 1: Get Your Shirt
Interested volunteers who are sober and wish to help are instructed to obtain their departmental shirt. This will make it easier for the IC or departmental head to quickly and effectively identify volunteers available so they can be assigned to a task.
Step 2: Report to the IC
Volunteers should then report to Incident Command for their assignment. They may be assigned a task by the IC or the departmental head. By default, IC will usually be the Ranger of the Day.
Many times, Incident Command will be located at Ranger HQ. Other times, it will be at the site of the incident. If everyone is familiar with the term when you say ‘Where’s the IC?’ then they’ll be able to point you to them every time.
Step 3: Know Your Role
Once you’ve been assigned to a task by the IC or your departmental head, do it and stick with it.
ICS depends on control and trust to efficiently manage an incident. That means understanding who’s assigned to what task in any given moment, and trusting them to accomplish that task.
You may not be assigned to the exciting task you wanted to do, but it’s incredibly important to the Big Picture. Don’t let ego get in the way.
Step 4: Don’t Freelance
It is very difficult to bypass an incident to grab a shirt. There is an emotional desire to just jump in and help that is tough to override. However, in a serious incident, organizational cohesion and control of the situation is critical, both to the success of the operation and to the public perception of how the organization is handling the incident.
There is a saying in emergency services: freelancers aren’t heroes, they’re the next casualty. If something does happen to you, then you are taking up resources that should have been assigned elsewhere. Don’t give in to ego.
If there is an obvious, immediate threat to someone’s life, by all means act appropriately if it is safe to do so. However, utilize appropriate judgment based on the situation; grabbing your shirt and checking in with IC should be priority over ‘checking it out.’
There are only precious few situations that won’t benefit from you taking the extra couple of minutes to grab your shirt and report to IC.
Part IV: Advanced ICS—The IC’s Toolbox
For those wanting to learn more about ICS, we’ll explore some more advanced concepts. To be involved in Flipside ICS, most volunteers will only need to know the information before this section.
As mentioned above, ICS is modular; it can expand or contract to address whatever needs an incident may develop. The Incident Commander has many tools available to use.
It’s important to remember that just as every incident may not require every tool, incidents requiring specific tools may not require some of their many applications.
The ￼Deputy IC
An Incident Commander can very quickly become very busy in an incident while organizing the various departmental responses and dealing with volunteers arriving wanting to help out.
The creation of a Deputy IC can help mitigate some of that stress by off-loading certain tasks onto them so that the IC can focus on more directly managing the incident and the departmental responses.
The Deputy IC can act as a volunteer coordinator, routing incoming volunteers to department heads for task assignment, monitor the radio for any communications that the IC might miss, or for any other task he or she needs assistance.
The IC needs to be able to communicate their expectations to their Deputy IC quickly and effectively so they can both be effective in their roles.
In many incidents, the IC should appoint a ‘Safety Officer,’ who will be in charge of making sure that all operations are undertaken safely.
The Safety Officer will confer with the various departmental supervisors and can, if needed, call a halt to any operation they deem is unsafe for Flipside volunteers to undertake.
- Ranger Supervisor
- PET Supervisor
- Fire Department
- Site Ops Supervisor
- Ancillary Department Supervisor
To effectively manage incidents requiring multiple departments working together, it may be useful to appoint Supervisors to oversee the departmental operations.
Appointing Department Supervisors frees the IC from dealing with certain details that might otherwise distract them from the Big Picture. It also allows those with specialized training to coordinate amongst themselves how to best solve any challenges.
Department Supervisors should be accessible by the IC, the Safety Officer, and by other Department Supervisors to maintain organizational cohesion and facilitate departmental coordination.
ICs should give Department Supervisors a particular task or list of tasks to accomplish and then allow the Department Supervisor and their volunteers decide the best way to achieve the tasks set by the IC.
Departmental Resources and Tasks
Many Incident Commanders may not be familiar with the departments serving Flipside; to help remedy this, we’ve assembled a more in depth examination of Flipside’s departments and the various tasks that ICs may assign to them.
Listed below are some potential tasks for each department in the event of an incident. These lists are not complete, but are intended to serve as a foundation for an advanced response.
Rangers will likely form the bulk of operational personnel on comm., and it’s critical to effectively manage them.
- Crowd control/perimeter
- Utilize Rangers to keep scenes safe or to give PETs or other departments more room to operate.
- ￼Send a Ranger or two to escort emergency vehicles from the Gate to IC, HQ, or the scene.
- Rangers may be called on to mediate any disputes that arise from the incident, as emotions may run high.
- Green dot
- ￼Emotionally unstable victims or participants may need counseling during or in the wake of and incident.
- Road clearing
- ￼Rangers can be used to make sure emergency vehicles have access to and from the scene, clearing the roads of crowds.
- LZ assist
- ￼Establishing a presence at the LZ and maintaining safety will be important in case helicopters need to land.
- Tent clearing
- If safe, Rangers can clear tents and insure people are safely
Some PETs may have some ICS experience; managing the medical aspect of an incident will be their focus.
- Depending on the number of patients, PETs may be assigned to triage categories of the wounded
- PET resources can also be tasked with treating patients and stabilizing wounds.
- ￼Depending on the location of the incident, a PET may be tasked with bringing supplies to the scene and making them available.
- Transport access/egress
- ￼PETs with appropriate experience may be tasked with setting up lanes for emergency vehicles to enter and depart the scene.
Professional fire fighters practice ICS nearly every day. Coupled with other experience, they’re invaluable during an incident.
- Fire suppression
- Fire Team members can be tasked with actively putting out fire utilizing water or foam.
- Fire safety
- Prevention of other things catching fire is a task that will potentially save further loss of property or life.
- Technical rescue
- Fire fighters are trained in rescue techniques; they should be the only ones performing rescue operations.
- HazMat response
- Fire fighters are also trained in HazMat mitigation and spill response.
Site Ops represents the “DPW” areas of Flipside: Shaven Apes, DaFT, etc. These people will absolutely want to help.
- Extra hands
- ￼Non-dangerous tasks involving manual labor may need to be performed. You can supplement other teams’ tasks this way.
- Crowd control
- Maintaining a safety perimeter is another very good task for Site Ops volunteers.
- Machinery use
- ￼Site Ops or DaFT will have access to any machinery that Flipside has rented, don’t forget these resources.
- DaFT knows the ins and outs of the effigy’s structure. They’ll tell you what’s likely to happen if it’s damaged.
Ancillary Departments are other entities that may become involved in an Incident. Don’t forget them!
- Gate can close access to the event, insure that emergency traffic can get into the event, and monitor media response.
- Utilize Sound Marhsalls when available to cut music if the incident warrants it. This can free up other departments.
- Perimeter should be on the lookout for visitors coming to take a closer look and route them to Gate.