What HICS does to Help Hospitals Cope with Disasters and More

HICS – Hospital Incident Command System, or Control System for some – contains guidelines specific to hospital organisations with respect to business continuity requirements. While most people would readily appreciate the life or death nature, literally, of certain activities within a hospital, business continuity and disaster recovery stretch can have a very broad remit. Fires and earthquakes, terrorist attacks, epidemics, child abduction and internal utility failure are all events that hospitals may have to deal with, both for their own staff and for the public at large.

An underlying concept of HICS is that it can be applied by hospitals of any size and any medical specialisation; although it is made explicitly clear that any hospital should still prepare its own specific emergency operations plan. HICS as its full name suggests puts particular emphasis on functional items such as having a clear chain of command, identified and accountable team member roles, and a common language for facilitating cooperation. However, emergency situations are not the only application of HICS. The guidelines also apply to other events that have a direct bearing on hospital business continuity, such as moving a facility.

The HICS guidelines are designed to be read and understood not just by hospital personnel, but also by any person or other agency that need to work with the hospitals in a crisis. The Hospital Incident Command System Guidebook contains Job Actions Sheets, Incident Planning Guides and Incident Response Guides, as well as a training material development kit for teaching and implementing HICS. HICS also dovetails with wider incident management systems; in the United States for instance, NIMS (the National Incident Management System).