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  • Writer's pictureRonin

NIMS ICS for Technical Rescue Incidents

Is everyone on the same page? This article is to see if the NIMS 100 and 200 level classes are followed or just blown over because we all had to do them. Most of us across the country were required to do these classes and , don’t lie, most of us copied from our fellow firefighters. But were we just cheating ourselves. NIMS , in my opinion is a great way for all of us to be on the same page at incidents. It is used by all First Responders including Police, Public Works and now Schools, especially since those mass shootings. Communication has been one of the biggest problems on small and large incidents. Read some of the NIOSH reports, you will see in some incidents a lack of communication and control. So with that said lets look at why we should all be following the NIMS terminology.

ICS basic span of control

As shown here we use for span of control. I always think of NIMS as a tool box of positions that can be used at any incident.

The trick is to only take those positions out of the tool box that are required. Empty that tool box and you as IC will find yourself trying to fill them. Lets review some positions that could be used on Technical Rescue incidents.

  1. Command. This position should be used at every incident. Someone is in charge and that person is Command. If we start using it on small incidents it will be automatic at other calls.

  2. Operations. Many times this position is used unnecessarily. Some feel if a Chief shows up he will always take over as Command and make the officer that initially was Command to be Operations. What ever you SOGs say but if the incident is that small do you need the Ops position.

  3. Medical Rehab. Is under Command and is for first responders only.

  4. Safety Officer. Used a lot but required in Haz Mat incidents. In this article about technical rescue incidents it should be a priority. In both cases that person must be “Trained to the Level” of that incident.

  5. Staging, Either Level 1, at the incident or Level 2, at a designated location away from the incident.

  6. Rescue . This position could be used as a Branch, which is geographical or functional, or as a Group / Division depending on the circumstances. Once there are 5 or more Groups/ Divisions a Branch should be implemented . After this position in the TRT world you can add more. In a rope rescue incident you could assign a rigging group, patient access group, etc. In a trench or structural collapse incident you could add a shoring group, air or structural monitoring group . Confined Space incident some of the same, air monitoring, ventilation group or rigging group . Let take a vehicle extrication. We could have a suppression group , extrication group, patient packaging group or vehicle stabilization group. A TRT Group or Branch can also be used.

  7. Medical . This could also be a Branch, Group or Division depending on the size of the incident. The usual functions of Triage, Treatment and Transport could be used. Maybe under this position a single resource like a Coroner could be placed. Remember Medical Rehab goes under Command and should stay separate especially at larger incidents.Also remember that Groups and Divisions are on the same level , neither work for each other.

So you probable don’t see some terminology that has been and in some cases still is being used . The two terms are Sectors and Rapid Intervention Teams. Don’t get defensive now, but in the NIMS world, Sector has been replaced by Branch, Division or Group.

Rapid Intervention Team is now Rapid Intervention Crew [RIC]. Or as a Group[RIG]. I know your not going to change your terminology from the article but if we are all going to be on the same page then lets follow NIMS.

Below is one way to organize a fire incident. We have one IC, a Rapid Intervention Crew [RIC], Fire Attack Group, Vent Group, Search & Rescue Group and Traffic Control Group.

suggest organization for basic fire incident


Example including the Invest/ Intel position









These have just been some examples of ways to organize Technical Rescue Incidents. Obviously you should follow your departments SOG but where NIMS comes into place is when you respond to or receive mutual aid from neighboring departments your communications will be clearer if your on the same page following NIMS terminology.

With that said the more we use NIMS on everyday incidents the easier it will be at a Technical Rescue incident which can be more complex. Practicing by doing tabletop incidents, taking a case from your pass or using one out of a fire or rescue magazine. Or really look at what would you do in your community when and if you get the call for a Technical Rescue.

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