National Incident Management System

The National Incident Management System [NIMS] is a dynamic continuum of interrelated processes designed to allow for the systematic response to any incident, large or small, using standardized practices that transcend political and geographical boundaries and can be adopted easily without regard to specialty or professional focus (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA], n.d.; Walsh et al., 2012). The five component philosophies of NIMS are:

  1. preparedness,
  2. communications and information management,
  3. resource management,
  4. command and management, and
  5. ongoing management and maintenance.

I have not included ‘supporting technologies’ as a component of NIMS merely because it is supportive in both description and function.

Supporting technologies are used to further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of NIMS by providing tools that help to streamline processes (Walsh et al., 2012). Supporting technologies has to be the least important on the list as it can be used to facilitate each of the others, but the effectiveness of NIMS is not contingent on this component.

The strongest, or most important component, is arguably preparedness. Kirkwood (2008) outlines the importance of training when dealing with large and small events across multiple jurisdictions and demonstrates how preparing for the eventuality of an emergency allows for a greater degree of critical thinking without the burden of the emergency, itself. However, as NIMS is a continuum of systems and processes, each of the five components is strikingly important to the others and can be either complimentary or detrimental in the end.


Kirkwood, S. (2008). NIMS and ICS: from compliance to competence. EMS Magazine, 37(2), 51-2, 54-7. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency. (n.d.). NIMS FAQ. Retrieved from

Walsh, D. W., Christen, H. T., Callsen, C. E., Miller, G. T., Maniscalco, P. M., Lord, G. C., & Dolan, N. J. (2012). National Incident Management System: principles and practice (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.