Unit 3: Organization, Authority & Noise

In large-scale disaster response situations, one of the largest sources of noise can be organizational tension and unclear lines of authority.

In this unit, we will be looking lines of authority across disaster-response agencies as well as the ICS method of organization disaster response.

The Goals

By the end of the unit, you should be able to:

The Challenge

During this module, you will begin developing a memo or presentation for ensuring that your team understands the basic principles of the ICS method of organizing disaster response and identifying and describing one or two agencies you are likely to work with in responding to a disaster.

The Resources


The Incident Command System (ICS), which is at the heart of the federal government's national response systems as well as other public and private disaster response systems, is a system for centralizing control of multiple agencies and teams into one a single incident response.

ICS implements some concepts you have visited in previous units, such as clear terminology. Two sources you can use to learn about ICS are:

Federal Emergency Management Administration (n.d.) Command and management under NIMS — Part 1. Retrieved March 31, 2006 from http://www.training.fema.gov/emiweb/IS/is700cm/NIM0102010.html.

FEMA's tutorial covers the basics of how FEMA implements ICS as part of the NIMS (National Incident Management System). You can find more tutorials in this series at this link.

Irwin, R. L. (1989). Disaster response: Principles of preparation and coordination. Retrieved March 31, 2006 from http://orgmail2.coe-dmha.org/dr/DisasterResponse.nsf/section/07?opendocument.

Irwin's book, while an older source, includes an entire chapter (chapter 7) on ICS.

Likely Partners

The second set of resources for this unit will be up to you.

Based on your agency or team's mission and likely types of disaster to which you will respond, select one or two other organizations that it is likely you will need to coordinate with in a disaster. These could be local hospitals or ambulance companies, your state's National Guard units, your local police or fire departments, your highway patrol, private property management or security companies, or any number of private or non-governmental organizations (such as the Red Cross).

Using Google or another search engine (or your state and city website), locate the agency or organization's website and find the following information:

Use the conference areas to ask your instructor and classmates if you need help. Remember, you only need to research one or two organizations for this unit.


For this unit, use the following guidelines to judge how to spend your time:

Remember not to neglect conference participation. This is an opportunity for you to interact with and learn from your instructor and classmates. Most students find conference participation essential to successfully completing their projects.