Who has overall responsibility for managing the on scene incident

Who has overall responsibility for managing the on scene incident

In any emergency, it is crucial to have a transparent chain of command for effective management and control of the incident. It is especially true for on-scene incidents, where quick decision-making and effective communication are essential. This article will discuss who is responsible for managing the on scene incident.


An on-scene incident can be any event that requires immediate action and response. It can be a natural disaster, an industrial accident, a terrorist attack, or any other emergency threatening public safety. Managing the on-scene incident is a critical task that involves coordination, communication, and decision-making. It requires a structured approach to ensure that all resources are effectively utilized and that all actions are taken promptly and efficiently.

On-Scene Incident Management

On-scene incident management is the process of organizing and directing resources to achieve the objectives of the incident. It involves identifying the incident, assessing the situation, establishing objectives, and developing a plan of action. The primary goal of incident management is to minimize the impact of the incident and protect life, property, and the environment.

Incident Commander

The Incident Commander (IC) is the person who has overall responsibility for managing the on-scene incident. The IC is responsible for establishing command and control, coordinating resources, and making critical decisions. The IC is also responsible for ensuring the safety of all responders and the public. The IC is appointed based on qualifications, training, and experience and is typically the first person to arrive on the scene.

Roles and Responsibilities of Incident Commander

The roles and responsibilities of the IC include the following:

  • Establishing command and control
  • Assessing the situation and developing incident objectives
  • Developing an incident action plan
  • Coordinating resources
  • Ensuring responder safety
  • Establishing communication with stakeholders
  • Managing the incident budget
  • Maintaining situational awareness
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the response

Delegation of Authority

The IC can delegate authority to other individuals to manage specific aspects of the incident. The delegation of authority must be clear and precise, and the trusted person must have the qualifications, training, and experience. The IC retains overall responsibility for the incident, even if authority is delegated.

Unified Command System

The Unified Command System (UCS) is a coordinated incident management approach involving multiple agencies and jurisdictions. The UCS allows all responding agencies to work under a single incident management structure, with a designated IC responsible for the incident.

Command Staff

The Command Staff includes the Public Information Officer, Safety Officer, and Liaison Officer. The Command Staff supports the IC in managing the incident and provides specialized expertise in their respective areas.

General Staff

The General Staff includes the Operations Section Chief, Planning Section Chief, Logistics Section Chief, and Finance/Administration Section Chief. The General Staff is responsible for implementing the incident action plan and managing specific aspects of the incident.

Incident Action Plan

The Incident Action Plan (IAP) is a written plan that outlines the objectives, strategies, and tactics for managing the incident. The IAP is developed by the IC and is based on the incident objectives and resources available. The IAP is updated as needed to reflect changes in the situation.

Transfer of Command

The transfer of command occurs when the IC is relieved by a designated successor. The transfer of power must be done clearly and organized, with a complete briefing and documentation of the incident status, objectives, and action plan. The outgoing IC provides a thorough briefing to the incoming IC, and both ICs must agree on the current situation and the status of the incident before the transfer is complete.


In summary, managing the on-scene incident requires a structured and coordinated approach. The Incident Commander has overall responsibility for managing the incident and is supported by a Command Staff and General Staff. The Unified Command System allows for effective coordination among multiple agencies and jurisdictions. Delegation of authority, incident action planning, and transfer of command are critical components of on-scene incident management.


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Asif Ali Qadri

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