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Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

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Pre-Disaster Established Trust and Relationships: Two Major Factors Influencing the Effectiveness of Implementing the ICS

Ray Chang
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  • Oklahoma State University, Division of Engineering Technology, 546 Engineering North, Stillwater, OK, USA
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/ Joseph Trainor
Published Online: 2018-09-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jhsem-2017-0050


Since the establishment of the Incident Command System (ICS), many discussions have centered on its design, using the failure or success of disaster response to evaluate the effectiveness of this system. However, even prior to implementation, there are certain pre-conditions that must be first satisfied by responders. Two major factors underlying these pre-conditions, that strongly influence the eventual design and consequent functioning of the ICS, are pre-disaster established trust and relationships. This research utilizes qualitative methods to explore the importance of pre-disaster established trust and relationships in the implementation of the ICS. Twenty-eight in-depth qualitative interviews were completed and analyzed. From looking at how ICS users make a variety of different decisions regarding the establishment of the incident command, the setting up of overall response goals and objectives, the implementation of the Incident Action Plan, the selection of new ICS leaders, and the working arrangements made with volunteers, it can be observed that relationship and trust are two very important factors that dictate the successful implementation of the ICS. Based on this analysis, three conclusions could be drawn in this research: (1) any thorough evaluation of the ICS should also include an analysis of any existing pre-conditions, (2) future ICS training should cover strategies to build relationships and trust between response organizations, and (3) additional research should be conducted to understand other factors that influence the implementation of the ICS at scene of disaster.

Keywords: disaster response; emergency management; Incident Command System (ICS)


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-09-21

Citation Information: Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Volume 15, Issue 4, 20170050, ISSN (Online) 1547-7355, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jhsem-2017-0050.

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