Although NIMS continues to evolve -- and face it, as new and unanticipated situations test the NIMS system, the need for changes will surface -- it will settle into something more concrete and less fluid. California's Mayer believes the upward climb for agencies working on NIMS compliance will end once the details have been ironed out.
"I see it leveling off, especially because they have very clear definitions for incident command system roles and responsibilities," she says. But at this time, as law enforcement's grasp tightens on the issues surrounding NIMS implementation, the private sector continues to work toward putting its role in the proper context.
"The nontraditional sector is seeing a little bit of confusion," Mayer says. "They're trying to translate 'this is what your job would be,' and are having a harder time translating into their lexicon what they might be responsible for in an emergency."
Meanwhile, back at the police or sheriff's department, law enforcement executives, state agencies and training officers nationwide look at NIMS as something that, for them, will remain a constant.
"The best thing that's come out of NIMS is an acknowledgement that incident command structure is a good tool and that we have clear roles and responsibilities in any type of disaster -- both for traditional and nontraditional players," Mayer says.
She adds: "We're talking about how we will all come together as a nation to ensure we are able to protect the public and successfully respond together."
And that really is the bottom line for NIMS: a huge amount of work, but something that can save lives, reduce confusion, and give the good guys a badly needed and much-deserved edge when an emergency strikes -- no matter what it is or where it happens.
Have training issues? Or maybe there are simply too many choices and not enough information about what's out there for National Incident Management System (NIMS) training purposes. If that's the case, perhaps it's time to look at a different approach.
Brian Couzens, president of Advanced Safety Products, located in Parker, Colorado, rides the technological wave of NIMS training by offering a NIMS video training program. Unlike the usual dry, overhead-projector or PowerPoint presentation with an instructor droning on while officers mentally zone-out, videos like the ones Couzens produces are colorful, dramatic and engaging.
Couzens says the idea behind the videos followed a massive fire in Colorado. "We were ahead of both the 9/11 Commission and the presidential directive," he says.
With a background in video and emergency management, including more than 25 years with the fire service, mountain search and rescue, and incident command, Couzens didn't simply decide to turn Incident Command Systems (ICS) into a business. He saw a gap and knew it needed filling.
"It addresses what most educational programs do not address adequately," he says. "Most people are visual learners -- especially fire and police."
Couzens says the programs bring ICS situations to life and show exactly how the knowledge already gained is applied under dramatic circumstances. Training programs already in place "don't bring reality to the people, and the people don't see how it applies to them."
Shot in documentary style, the program brings Columbine and the Oklahoma City bombing into the training arena. NIMS personnel talk about the reality of their jobs in a way that's both riveting and informational.
Couzens says it's time for NIMS to become less of a task on which federal funding is dependent and more of a national challenge. "We've got to shed our egos and start working together. This will allow everyone to work together efficiently and be able to do their jobs effectively," he says.
For more information check out: www.nimsvideo.com.
A 12-year veteran of police work, Carole Moore has served in patrol, forensics, crime prevention and criminal investigations, and has extensive training in many law enforcement disciplines. She welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.