Hospital Incident Command System Training Details


What is HICS?

The Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) is a standardized system used to organize response personnel and resources and to manage response operations. It’s based on the same principles as the Incident Command System (ICS), but it’s adapted to suit the healthcare environment. As such, HICS complies with the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Physicians, nurses, hospital/healthcare facility administrators, department heads, and other personnel should understand HICS and its application. 

Incident Planning, Response Guides & Job Action Sheets

HICS incident planning guides list fundamental decision considerations for managing specific hazards and may be used as a template to build recommended actions and strategies into the hospital’s emergency management program. 

Planning guides may be used to develop strategies and actions to:

  • Reduce the impact of an incident or threat.

  • Assess current plans and identify gaps in incident planning.

  • Develop or customize incident-specific response guides for the hospital.

Planning actions are grouped into four phases:

  1. Mitigation – preventing or minimizing threats to the physical facility and overall operations.

  2. Preparedness – being ready to respond to a given incident.

  3. Response – activating and performing strategies to manage a given incident.

  4. Recovery – conducting activities to return hospital operations to normal.

HICS response guides provide checklists of recommended actions for managing specific hazards during its different phases. These actions are suggestions and should be adapted or omitted to accommodate the unique needs and capabilities of the hospital.

HICS job action sheets (JASs) serve as a job manual that briefly outlines the critical aspects and responsibilities of the Hospital Incident Management Team (HIMT) position the user is assuming. They list the tasks and key actions for a HIMT position sectioned into time frames to give the user clear direction on what to do and when to do it. JASs are generic to HIMT positions and should be customized to be hazard-specific. At a minimum, JASs should contain the following information:

  • The position title, mission, and duty location

  • The list of tasks for the position, sectioned into time frames

  • The list of documents, tools, and equipment the position may need to perform the role

HICS Forms 

HICS forms are preformatted documents modeled on the ICS forms created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) but have been modified to accommodate the healthcare environment. HIMT members use these forms to exchange and record incident-related information within the hospital’s operating areas and the various HIMT positions. Information that must be documented during an incident includes the following:

  • Incident situation/status (and changes)

  • Actions and precautions taken

  • Decisions made

  • Assignments made

  • Information shared

  • Resources used

  • Financial costs and implications

Each form serves a unique purpose. Certain forms are designed to reflect a chronology of decisions, whereas others are used for reporting information or for making resource

requests. Instructions for completing and using the HICS forms are provided with each form. When forms are completed by hand, they should be written neatly to ensure they are readable by other HIMT members. Once completed, forms should be duplicated and distributed according to the directions provided. 

Creating organizational charts is helpful – that way everyone can see where responsibility and authority may be distributed within the team. For more HICS training details, download the HICS guidebook

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