Function: Direction and Control

Someone must be in charge in an emergency. The system for managing resources, analyzing information and making decisions in an emergency is called direction and control.

The direction and control system described below assumes a facility of sufficient size. Your facility may require a less sophisticated system, though the principles described here will still apply.

The configuration of your system will depend on many factors. Larger industries may have their own fire team, emergency medical technicians or hazardous materials team, while smaller organizations may need to rely on mutual aid agreements. They may also be able to consolidate positions or combine responsibilities. Tenants of office buildings or industrial parks may be part of an emergency management program for the entire facility.

Function: Direction and Control

Other Functions

Emergency Management Group (EMG)

The EMG is the team responsible for the big picture. It controls all incident-related activities. The Incident Commander (IC) oversees the technical aspects of the response.

The EMG supports the IC by allocating resources and by interfacing with the community, the media, outside response organizations and regulatory agencies.

The EMG is headed by the Emergency Director (ED), who should be the facility manager. The ED is in command and control of all aspects of the emergency. Other EMG members should be senior managers who have the authority to:

Incident Command System (ICS)

The ICS was developed specifically for the fire service, but its principles can be applied to all emergencies. The ICS provides for coordinated response and a clear chain of command and safe operations.

The Incident Commander (IC) is responsible for front-line management of the incident, for tactical planning and execution, for determining whether outside assistance is needed and for relaying requests for internal resources or outside assistance through the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

The IC can be any employee, but a member of management with the authority to make decisions is usually the best choice.

The IC must have the capability and authority to:

In a hazardous materials accident, an off-site medic was exposed to the spilled material and required hospitalization. It was determined that the person was able to enter the hazardous area unprotected because no one among a host of managers and facility responders was "in charge" at the scene.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

The EOC serves as a centralized management center for emergency operations. Here, decisions are made by the EMG based upon information provided by the IC and other personnel. Regardless of size or process, every facility should designate an area where decision makers can gather during an emergency.

The EOC should be located in an area of the facility not likely to be involved in an incident, perhaps the security department, the manager's office, a conference room or the training center. An alternate EOC should be designated in the event that the primary location is not usable.

Each facility must determine its requirements for an EOC based upon the functions to be performed and the number of people involved. Ideally, the EOC is a dedicated area equipped with communications equipment, reference materials, activity logs and all the tools necessary to respond quickly and appropriately to an emergency.

EOC Resources:

Planning Considerations

To develop a direction and control system:

At a minimum, assign all personnel responsibility for:


Isolation of the incident scene must begin when the emergency is discovered. If possible, the discoverer should attempt to secure the scene and control access, but no one should be placed in physical danger to perform these functions. Basic security measures include:

Only trained personnel should be allowed to perform advanced security measures. Access to the facility, the EOC and the incident scene should be limited to persons directly involved in the response.

Coordination of Outside Response

In some cases, laws, codes, prior agreements or the very nature of the emergency require the IC to turn operations over to an outside response organization. When this happens, the protocols established between the facility and outside response organizations are implemented. The facility's IC provides the community's IC a complete report on the situation.

The facility IC keeps track of which organizations are on-site and how the response is being coordinated. This helps increase personnel safety and accountability, and prevents duplication of effort.

Keep detailed logs of actions taken during an emergency. Describe what happened, decisions made and any deviations from policy. Log the time for each event.

Last Modified: Tuesday, 21-Mar-2006 08:36:41 EST