The principles and habits of ICS are not really new, rather ICS is the systemization and enhancement of what fire and law agencies had been doing for years in various jurisdictions.
As an organization structure ICS is designed to be usable in ALL KINDS OF EMERGENCIES, whether small day-to-day situations or very large and complex ones. It is also readily adaptable to new technology, and yet is simple enough to ensure low operational maintenance costs. It is applicable and generally acceptable throughout the country.
The major benefit of the Incident Command System (ICS) is that it can expand in a logical manner from an initial isolated incident into a major widespread disaster with the least disruption of systems and resources. Here is the basic structure of the ICS.
For example, a small grass fire starts outside of a city. A local fire department responds. The unit reaches the fire. The ranking officer on this first unit is the initial Incident Commander and handles all of the other IC positions as needed. Since the fire is small the obvious task is to extinguish it, which they set about to do as an incident strike team.
The ranking officer set up the basic element of ICS when he (as a strike team leader of the crew that responded to the fire) took command and assigned the fire fighters to their work. At that point it was a local situation and only the single command element was implemented.
However, just as the last embers are being extinguished a heavy wind blow ups and sparks cause the fire to jump a road into a dry hay field. What was originally a small local fire situation suddenly becomes an escalating emergency as the wind-fed fire roars through the fields and hungrily engulfs vast areas. A disastrous conflagration suddenly threatens many farms, a large city and two towns. Many engines and crews from multiple jurisdictions will be needed to fight the fire.
When the fire exploded, everything changed. His crew was not able to handle much of the fast moving fire. So, he called for help via radio. Next week we see how ICS expands to help the situation.