3.1. Communicate to Coordinate with Response Partners
For any disaster, incidents are largely managed or executed at the closest possible geographical, organizational, and jurisdictional levels.33 Accordingly, the optimal response to a chemical incident depends upon the scope and scale of the event and follows the model of being locally executed and managed unless the scope and scale of the incident requires additional assistance. State, tribal, and territorial (STT) assistance can be requested, along with federal support, if needed and available. Private sector and NGO engagement may be available in the context of many incident types. For the majority of chemical incidents, incident management will entail, at a minimum, communications between local officials and the RP, if a RP is pertinent to the incident type. As incidents become larger and the responses more complex, the need for support from FSLTT partner agencies is more likely. Thus, for smaller-scale incidents, unified coordination may be as simple as meetings between departments and agencies; during recovery from small-scale incidents, these might be weekly meetings. However, in the context of complex, larger-scale incident response and recovery, more formalized and frequent partner communications will be required to maintain coordination between individual organizations and agencies, each with their various individual authorities, roles and responsibilities, and scopes of work.
Coordination of communication systems and the communications themselves between FSLTT partner agencies and private sector responsible parties is essential for maintaining situational awareness and keeping track of the ever-changing status of critical services, resources, and infrastructure during the response to and recovery from a chemical incident. Ultimately, the coordination of decision-making, resource allocation, and other specific activities among these same entities is critical for a successful, efficient, and cost-effective response and recovery. Interagency communications and information sharing will enable multi-entity teams to coordinate and maintain good relationships within the changing response and recovery environment, particularly as timelines and authorities shift.
33. Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2019, October 28). National Response Framework. Department of Homeland Security. 4th ed.