The Incident Action Plan (IAP) is a written plan that defines the incident objectives and reflects the tactics necessary to mange an incident during one operation period in order to effect successful outcomes in any situation, especially emergency operations, in a timely manner. The Plan is developed at the incident level through the incident action planning process for, usually, the next operational period. Note, staffing changes occur at the end/beginning of operational periods.
The IAP starts with identifying the strategy to achieve a solution to the confronted problems. The strategy should be broad in nature and define what has to be done. Once the strategy has been defined, the Incident Commander (IC) or the Operations Section Chief needs to select the tactics. Tactics are the operations that need to be completed in order to accomplish the strategy. If the strategy defines where you want to go, then tactics are the signposts along the path to get you there. They provide the answers to the "how" and "where" of the IAP. Tactics are measurable in both time and performance.
The IAP also includes whatever support actions may be necessary to make the plan operable, e.g., unique teams, tools, water supply, utility control, food, etc. Once the IAP is developed, the IC may start issuing directives and committing resources. These directives define objectives that must be completed in order to achieve the IAP goals. IAP's are not necessarily fully complete before orders are given, but sufficient information must be in place for the resources to achieve positive results effectively.
Once the plan is established and resources are committed, it is necessary to assess the effectiveness of the plan. Information must be gathered and analyzed so that necessary modification and updating may be done to improve the effectiveness of the plan, if necessary. This step is part of the continuing size-up process. Ongoing progress reporting by operational or management units allows the IAP to be modified based on current conditions.
IAP's generally are not written for day-to-day operations. However, on large-scale incidents or special events, such as wildland fires, natural disasters, haz mat spills, parades, sporting events, etc., there should be a written plan for each operational period that is developed during a Planning meeting. When only a few units are engaged actively in a simple incident, the IAP is developed in the mind of the IC.
The IAP includes the strategy and tactics for the incident as well as the supporting operations that must occur. The IC must ensure that operating resources and managers know the overall strategy. This information normally is conveyed when orders are issued to arriving companies and other officers. On large, complex incidents of long duration, the IAP must be written down. Naturally, the initial IAP is in the mind of the IC until sufficient staff arrives to create an overall plan and commit it to writing.
Incident Action Planning Guide (pdf)
Incident Action Planning Steps (pdf)
The Incident Action Plan is great way to prepare for exercises or events as it offers a structured planning format. In addition, the familiarization with the process makes ARES an even more valuable tool for the emergency management organizations that we support. After the event, it is also important to have an after-action review and tailor future training and planning around those findings. The IAP is also a good way to prepare and train for future incidents so that a plan is already on the shelf.
Incident Action Planning Forms
Last Update: 09/12/2016 © Copyright Sumter County ARES. All Rights Reserved.