On a frosty day in mid-December, several members attended the UMV MRC’s final training session of 2005. The emergency management department for the City of Lowell sponsored a classroom offering of NIMS: the National Incident Management System. The class took place in the venerable Pollard Memorial Library in downtown Lowell.
Members attended NIMS-700 training, taught by Emergency Management instructors for the City of Lowell. From left to right: Chief William Desrosiers, Lowell Fire Dept.; Mark Boldrighini, Lowell's deputy director of emergency management; UMV MRC members Dr. Paul Royte, Bill Cahill, Dottie Mullen, Esther-Diana Menke, and Nancy Liva.
The catalyst for NIMS training was Homeland Security Presidential Directive #5, which specified the development of a national incident management system and a new national response plan.
The main purpose of NIMS is to ensure a consistent nationwide approach for agencies that work together in responding to a variety of incidents. “This can mean any disaster," emphasized instructor Mark Boldrighini, “such as a chemical truck falling into a river. Think ‘large scale’ when you consider NIMS.”
Boldrighini stressed the importance of responders across communities being able to work together. “A plume of hazardous materials doesn’t know to stop at the town line,” he joked. Fire Chief Richard Desrosiers added, “Keep in mind that all incidents start and end at the local level.” Federal response plans require local agencies to prepare for self-sufficiency throughout the first 72 hours of an incident.
Many agencies that provide staff or volunteer first responders are mandated to complete NIMS-700 training, to qualify for federal reimbursements. Response plans have expanded in scope to accommodate public health, school nurses, department of public works employees, and other groups that were not traditionally included with first responders such as police, fire, and emergency medical services.
The instructors noted that disaster response benefits from mutual aid arrangements which are written down in advance and nurtured – supplemented with joint training and drills – to encourage positive interaction across agencies. Other topics included coordination of resources, ensuring rescuer safety, the value of standard terminology, and non-emergency uses of NIMS.
Members of the UMV MRC are strongly encouraged to take NIMS-700, in either classroom or online format. (See http://training.fema.gov/emiweb/IS/is700.asp for information about NIMS online training.)