The Hospital Emergency Incident Command System—is the Army Medical Department on board?

Major John J. Casey III, USA, MSSI, MHS


Catastrophic scenarios that once seemed merely theoretical have become a stark reality. Horrific natural disasters, the emergence of state-sponsored terrorism, pro liferation of chemical and biological agents, availability of materials and scientific weapons expertise, and recent increases in less discriminate attacks all point toward a growing threat of mass casualty (MASCAL) events. Hospitals across America are upgrading their ability to respond to disasters and emergencies of all kinds as the nation wages its war on terror. To respond to these challenges, many civilian hospitals are relying on the Hospital Emergency Incident Command System (HEICS), an emergency management model that employs a logical management structure, detailed responsibilities, clear reporting channels, and a common nomenclature to help unify responders. Modeled after the FIRESCOPE (FIrefighting RESources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies) management system, HEICS is fast becoming a key resource in healthcare emergency management. Over the past couple of years, military hospitals have begun embracing the HEICS model as well. This article discusses the prevalence of HEICS and provides an analysis of its effectiveness within the Army Medical Department (AMEDD).



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JCAHO: Revised environment of care standards for the Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals (CAMH). JCAHO Website. Available at per spec tives.asp?durki=2515&site=10&return=1122. Accessed Janu ary 21, 2006.

Taylor M, Pletz B, Cheu D, et al.: Hospital Emergency Incident Command System (HEICS), Third Edition, Volume I. Emergency Medical Services Authority of California Web site. Available at Accessed January 14, 2006.



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