Incident Command System Training for Higher Education and Schools: Where to Start

Emergency management work in higher education and schools has a lot of parts.  One of the areas that many people get lost in is the formal training and certification for the Incident Command System (ICS).  ICS is a component of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). These two systems are distinct, but are often referred to interchangeably.

As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) describes,

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work together seamlessly and manage incidents involving all threats and hazards—regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity—in order to reduce loss of life, property and harm to the environment. The NIMS is the essential foundation to the National Preparedness System (NPS) and provides the template for the management of incidents and operations in support of all five National Planning Frameworks.

For detailed information on NIMS/ICS, check out the NIMS website.  

Specifically for higher education and schools, there are several free web-based trainings and certifications.  The ones that I recommend are as follows (FEMA uses the initials “IS”, meaning Independent Study).

After this courses are complete, there are a few in-person courses that leadership teams should take:

If this all seems like too much, start with the 100 course and then slowly work through the list of recommended trainings for different positions. I wrote about that in an earlier blog post.


About mcolpitts

Dr. Matthew W. Colpitts has served at Léman Manhattan Preparatory School as the Director of Residence Life since August 2017 leading the educational, operational, and student support aspects of the boarding program. Matt has been an educator, administrator, and leader in higher education and K12 independent schools for over 10 years serving in the areas of residence life, university housing, student conduct, campus safety and security, emergency management, enrollment management, and student affairs. Matt has also served in educator-leader roles at diverse educational institutions including Clark University, Landmark College, Southern Oregon University, Utah State University, and Interlochen Center of the Arts. Most recently, he was the Dean of Students for the Academy at Interlochen Center for the Arts. He also does independent risk and safety management consulting. A first-generation college student from rural Maine, Matt is a proud graduate of Clark University in Worcester, MA with a B.A. in English and Philosophy. He holds an Ed.D. from Fielding Graduate University where he researched emergency management in educational institutions. Outside of school, Matt enjoys reading, traveling, and learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
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