The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a structure for the management of large-scale incidents and those that encompass multiple jurisdictions, across federal, state and local levels. Effective emergency-response practices are coordinated within a comprehensive national framework. The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management System are involved in efforts to improve preparedness and compliance, in part through providing grant money to assist with training and infrastructure. Preparedness encompasses simulations and evaluation of communication among computer systems.
The NIMS Support Center (NIMS SC) has two key initiatives that help personnel prepare and that provide evaluation of the effectiveness of preparedness. These are the Exercise Simulation System (ESS) and the NIMS Supporting Technology Evaluation Program (NIMS STEP).
The ESS offers exercises for improved “planning and coordination capabilities of emergency managers and responders, elected officials, and other stakeholders” across all levels of the government. The environment provided in this system aids in developing scenarios and objectives by which incident management capabilities can be tested.
The STEP provides “independent, objective evaluations of software products against NIMS concepts and data exchange standards.” The program assists with implementing the NIMS and enhancing common operations among emergency communications and information management systems. At an accredited laboratory in Kentucky, evaluations were conducted to verify confomity to interoperability standards and the capability of exchanging critical messages during disasters.
Another aspect of training is conducted by the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In its Alabama training center, the CDP offers several dozen courses in which law enforcement and emergency response personnel can receive training in current techniques and procedures. The courses prepare personnel for taking protective actions following an identified or perceived threat. Most CDP courses include training at its Chemical, Ordnance, Biological and Radiological Training Facility (COBRATF).