ICS/NIMS F.A.Q.

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This page contains answers to common questions about Incident Command System/National Incident Management System training for Auxiliarists. Most of this material was adapted from the National Response Department FAQ on ICS, formatted and extended for web access and focused on the Boat Crew Qualification Program.

When the Coast Guard mobilizes to a surge response, it is not business as usual; rather it is business as unusual. The Incident Command System and the National Incident Management System help us to mobilize quickly, work efficiently, and partner effectively with other agencies. Auxiliarists need to know ICS/NIMS so that we can stand shoulder to shoulder with the Coast Guard rather than having to stand idly by the side.

The members of the Auxiliary, as a body of motivated, security-checked, federally organized volunteers, are an increasingly valuable national emergency asset as our Incident Command System training level increases.

The Training page of this website has information on how and where to take courses. All members are strongly encouraged to receive training, not just those involved with operations in some way.

The Chief Director of Auxiliary issued an ALAUX message in Feb 2007 to clarify requirements - click here for the message. An additional message about IS-210 was issued in July 2008 - click here for the message.
 

(updates are due to January 2007 changes in Crewmember/Coxswain Qualification Guides, and 12 February 2007 ALAUX message)


What do these abbreviations mean?

ICS is the Incident Command System and it is the accepted management scheme for incident management, including incidents of national significance. These events can range from something that is known and planned out, like an OPSAIL, to something unexpected, like an oil spill. NIMS is the National Incident Management System. The ICS is a major component of NIMS, but NIMS is a national plan. NIMS integrates many concepts and potential responding agencies or organizations. In the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary, we will work with both. Each offers basic course work, designed to introduce you to the basic principles of management and the organizational design that allows the system to work.

You will see various use of prefixes for courses, all followed by numeric indicators...such as "ICS-100". The prefix "IS" is the official FEMA prefix now, but you will see this interchanged with "ICS-" and for certain courses, "NIMS-" or "NRP-".

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What training courses are offered?

There are over 50 courses offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute (EMI). They range from information for the private citizen to coursework for Command and Control personnel. The coursework that applies to the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary include IS-100, IS-200, IS-700, and IS-800. In addition, a USCG course designated as IS-210 is available. You can view the course selections at the FEMA Emergency Management Institute Independent Study Course List. IS-210 is a USCG-provided classroom course.

The Coast Guard NIMS Project Team is located at TRACEN Yorktown, VA. They have an extensive website located on HOMEPORT, the Coast Guard's public web portal. (Unfortunately, the Coast Guard's choice of web technology for their portal does not allow providing links to items within the portal: you will have to navigate manually). The ICS/NIMS site can be found in the LIBRARY section (look for the ICS item in the left column in the LIBRARY section).

IS-100 is "Introduction to Incident Command System".
IS-200 is "Basic Incident Command System".
IS-210 is "Initial Incident Command for Single Unit Resource Leaders".
IS-700 is "Introduction to National Incident Management System".
IS-800 is "Introduction to National Response Plan".

IS-700 may appear as "NIMS-700" in references. IS-800 may appear as "NRP-800" in references. "ICS" may appear as the prefix rather than the current official FEMA prefix of "IS" for course identifiers; many authors interchange the two prefixes.

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What is IS-210?

IS-210 is a 4-hour classroom course that is designed for Single Resource Leader/Type 5 and Type 4 Incident Commanders.  The course specifically focuses on initial incident assessment, initial incident management (includes assuming command, organization, and execution), the development and use of the form ICS-201, Transfer of Command, and the form ICS-204. Prerequisite is IS-100 (Introduction to ICS) and IS-200 (Basic ICS). The instructor must be USCG-approved (in D1NR, this has been a few active or reserve USCG-trained personnel).

IS-210 is required of all coxswains. For coxswain candidates, this course must be completed prior to the coxswain oral examination and coxswain underway checkride.

Some Auxiliary members may have taken the multi-day classroom course IS-300 (for their job, for other civilian activity, or for USCG efforts). IS-300 is an acceptable alternate to IS-210, but completion of IS-300 must be recorded in AUXDATA. If you took IS-300 anywhere, just send a copy of your completion certificate to the D1NR Cape Cod office for entry into AUXDATA.

ALAUX message -018/08 has more information about the addition of IS-210.

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Who has to take the ICS/NIMS courses?

This depends on who you are (in Auxiliary terms) and what you do to support the Coast Guard. We all joined the Auxiliary to support its missions and to promote boating safety. Some of us made the commitment to provide direct operation support to the Coast Guard or to assume a leadership role in the organization. You will need to complete the IS-100 and the IS-700 courses. In addition, if you are a Coxswain, pilot, team leader, or have been elected to a leadership role in the Auxiliary organization, you will also need to take IS-200, IS-210, and IS-800.

This F.A.Q. focuses on surface operations qualifications; see the Auxiliary National Response Department website and other national references for details on what courses apply to your Auxiliary efforts if you don't hold a surface operations qualification. The National Response Department FAQ on ICS may be the best starting point for your questions, as well as the ALAUX message of 12 February 2007.

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What recordkeeping is required?

Online courses taken at the FEMA website are not recorded automatically in the USCG Auxiliary AUXDATA system. Incident Command System courses taken with other sponsoring agencies (such as state emergency management agencies, or local response departments) are also not recorded automatically in the USCG Auxiliary AUXDATA system.

To have your course completions recorded in AUXDATA, send evidence of completion (forward a completion email, send a paper copy of your completion certificate) to the D1NR Cape Cod office. Remember to identify yourself (flotilla number or member number); the email or paper evidence probably doesn't indicate how to find you in the Auxiliary systems.

The USCG-selected IS-210 instructors will provide a roster for AUXDATA entry to the D1NR Cape Cod office without your action.

Some members may have taken advanced courses beyond that required for surface operations; send completion information to the D1NR Cape Cod office as well; this is extremely useful training for USCG incidents as well, and the only way to find members with specific training is to look at AUXDATA records.

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Why do Coxswains need to take additional courses?

Actually, it is not just Coxswains, but pilots and anyone who leads a team, including all of the folks working in the Trident program at your local sector. You are known as a "single unit resource leader". Each of you has responsibility for accepting orders or direction and performing a function within the response. You are also responsible for directing members of your team, preparing reports to document your activities, and providing summaries at the end of your patrol, mission, or assignment. Therefore, you need to know more than other Auxiliary members about how the incident management system works and how you work within the system.

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I am currently certified as a Crewmember. When must I complete courses?

The deadlines for completion of courses for crewmembers have passed, so if you are currently certified as a crewmember you have already completed the required IS-100 and IS-700 courses.

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I am not yet certified as a Crewmember, but will be soon. When must I complete courses?

You must have completed IS-100 and IS-700 prior to your crewmember oral examination and crewmember underway checkride. You cannot be certified as a crewmember without completion of IS-100 and IS-700.

In the Crewmember Qualification Guide COMDTINST M16794.52A effective January 1, 2007, your ICS training requirements are a task to be completed and verified (signed) by your mentor.

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I am currently certified as a Coxswain. When must I complete courses?

If you are currently certified as a coxswain, you have already completed IS-100, IS-200, IS-210, IS-700, and IS-800 (if not, you would not be certified)

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I am not yet certified as a Coxswain, but will be soon. When must I complete courses?

You must have completed IS-100, IS-200, IS-210, IS-700, and IS-800 prior to your coxswain oral examination and coxswain underway checkride. You cannot be certified as a coxswain without completion of all five required courses.

In the Coxswain Qualification Guide COMDTINST M16794.53A effective January 1, 2007, your ICS training requirements are a task to be completed and verified (signed) by your mentor.

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I am currently a Qualification Examiner. When must I complete courses?

All QEs are Coxswains, so the Coxswain requirements apply to you.

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I am neither Crewmember nor Coxswain; do I have to also complete courses?

This F.A.Q. focuses on surface operations qualifications; see the Auxiliary National Response Department website and other national references for details on what courses apply to your Auxiliary efforts.

However, here is a summary of required training based on the ALAUX message of 12 February 2007:

DCP/VCP/District staff in OP, CM, AV, MS/Division staff in OP, CM, MS/DCO/VCO/RCO: IS100, IS700, IS200, IS800, IS210

FC/VFC/FSO in OP, CM, MS/Any participant in surface operations, air operations, radio operations, planning, port security, marine safety: IS100, IS700

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