A couple months ago I got my hands on the materials for the ELG 2300 EOC Intermediate course. Back in early June I gave an initial review of this course, based on information from a webinar and the course’s plan of instruction. Unfortunately, upon reviewing the actual course materials, my initial concerns have been reinforced.
First, I’ll start off with what I think are the positives of this course. The course doesn’t stray from NIMS, and applies a practical integration of the NIMS management concepts, which we are mostly used to seeing in ICS, into the EOC environment. This is 100% appropriate and should always be reinforced. The course also references the EOC National Qualification System skillsets. It’s great to see the NQS referenced in training as they otherwise receive very little attention, which actually brings about a lot of concern as to their overall adoption. Two units within the course provide some incredibly valuable information. Those are Unit 5 (Information and Intelligence Management) and Unit 7 (EOC Transition to Recovery).
On to the down side of things… As mentioned in my review a couple months back, the course objectives simply don’t line up with what this course needs to do – that is, it needs to be teaching people how to work in an EOC. So much of the content is actually related to planning and other preparedness activities, specifically Units 3, 4, and 8. Unit 3 dives into topics such as position tack books, organizational models, EOC design, staff training and qualifications, exercises and more. Though, ironically enough, there is little to no emphasis on deliberate PLANNING, which is what all this relates to. This isn’t stuff to be thinking about during an EOC activation, but rather before an activation. Unit 4, similarly, gets into triggers for activation, how to deactivate the EOC, and other topics that are planning considerations. Unit 8 dives more into design, technology, and equipment. While it’s valuable for people to know what’s available, this is, again, preparedness content.
There is a lot of repetitive content, especially in the first few units, along with some typos, which is really disappointing to see. There are also some statements and areas of content which I wholeheartedly disagree with. Here are a few:
- There is ‘no common EOC structure’. There are actually a few. Hint: they are discussed in the NIMS document. I think what they are getting at with this statement is that there is no fixed EOC structure.
- ‘EOC leaders determine the structure that best meets their needs’. False. Plans determine the structure to be used. While that organizational model is flexible in terms of size of staff and specific delegations, the lack of context for this statement seems to indicate that the EOC Manager or Director will determine on the fly if they will use the ICS-based model, the Incident Support Model, or another model.
- One slide indicates that use of the ICS-based model doesn’t require any additional EOC training beyond ICS for EOC staff. Absolutely false! In fact, this sets you up for nothing but failure. Even if the model being applied is based on ICS, the actual implementation in an EOC is considerably different. I’ve written about this in the past.
- The Incident Support Model ‘is not organized to manage response/recovery efforts’. Wrong again. With the integration of operations functions within the Resource Support Section, response and recovery efforts can absolutely be managed from the EOC.
There is another area of content I take particular exception with. One slide describes ‘incident command teams’, and goes on to describe the Incident Command Post (which is a facility, not a team), and an Incident Management Team, with the formal description of a rostered group of qualified personnel. Not only is this slide wrong to include an Incident Command Post as a ‘team’, they are fundamentally ignoring the fact that ‘incident command teams’ are comprised every damn day on the fly from among responders deploying to an incident. These are the exact people I espouse the need to train and support in my discussions on ICS.
My conclusions… First of all, this course does not do as it needs to do, which is training people how to work in an EOC. While the preparedness information it gives is great, operators (people assigned to work in an EOC) will be taking this course expecting to learn how to do their jobs. They will not learn that. I’ve advocated before for most training to be set up similar to HazMat training, utilizing a structure of Awareness, Operations, Technician, Management, and Planning focused courses which are designed to TEACH PEOPLE WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW based upon their function. Largely, this course is a great Planning level course, that is it’s ideal for people who will be developing EOC operational plans, standard operating guidelines, position qualification standards, and other preparedness material. I think that Operations, Technician, and Management level training is going to be left to jurisdictions to develop and implement, as it certainly isn’t found here.
I urge a lot of caution to everyone before you decide to teach this course. Take a look at the material and decide if it’s really what your audience needs.
What are your thoughts on this course? Will your jurisdiction get use out of it?
© 2019 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP