On Tuesday, the Missoula City-County Health Department provided their daily briefing and Incident Commander Ken Parks discussed the incident command system. He said the ICS is a management system that is designed to enable an effective and efficient incident response.

“An ICS consists of cooperatively organizing and managing a variety of resources like facilities, equipment, staff, procedures, and communications,” Parks said. “Effective accountability is essential and things like incident action planning, unity of command, personal responsibility, real time resource tracking, and span of control are critical elements and components of a successful incident management system.”

ICS consist of a standard hierarchical structure that allows for a collaborative response by multiple agencies inside and outside of government. Parks went on to discuss to role of an incident commander. He said the IC is responsible for all aspects of an emergency response.

“They develop objectives, ensure safety, approve resource requests, and promote an ongoing and unified response effort,” Parks said. “Examples of IC duties during the COVID-19 response include things like sharing urgent and important information with staff and the community via safety messages, daily briefings, media interviews, regularly meeting with community partners to maintain a strong and unified response, ongoing and bidirectional communication with the state DPHHS, reviewing and approving all inward facing and outward facing communication and messaging, and regular check in and planning meetings with all general command and staff.”

While reopening and returning to what feels like normal is very excited, Parks said we need to continue moving forward with cautious optimism.

“We all have a part to play,” Parks said. “Please continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, clean and sanitize frequently touched surfaces at home, in the office, and at your business. Keep your social circle small and wear a cloth face covering when it is difficult to maintain six feet of space in a given area.”

Parks said it is important to practice safe behaviors, reduce COVID-19 related risks, and increase public safety.