Standardized Emergency Management System





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Instructional Goal

The goal of this combined course is to provide you, the participant, with a basic understanding of Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), Incident Command System (ICS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS), common terms associated with these systems and a basic understanding of where you will likely fit into SEMS, and what is required to work within and support a SEMS response.


In order to respond to frequent and multiple disasters occurring anytime and anywhere in the County, the state and throughout the world, it is important that emergency response agencies operate within a clear and consistent organizational structure.

Public agencies are increasingly required to manage the costs of emergencies more effectively with fewer resources. Many different agencies must work together effectively to protect lives, property and the environment during disasters.

Common practices are a priority and the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) facilitates priority setting, interagency cooperation and the efficient flow of resources and information. The building blocks of SEMS incorporate the Incident Command System (ICS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Incident Command System (ICS)
FIRESCOPE was organized after the 1970 wildland fires in Southern California. The goal was to create and implement new applications in fire service management, technology and coordination, with an emphasis on incident command and multi-agency coordination.

Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS)
After the 1991 East Bay Hills fire, Senator Petris introduced SB 1841. When chaptered, it directed the development of a standardized system to emergency management in CA. SEMS is the law in the State of California.

National Incident Management System (NIMS)
After the events of September 11, 2001 President Bush directed the development of a national system of incident management

Why Three Systems?

Each system is representative of a key component of our overall management and response to catastrophic events.

Why do I have to take this Training?

It is required that public employees have a level of training appropriate to their role and responsibilities with a minimum requirement being this course.

Are you a Disaster Service Worker?

  • Disaster Service Worker
    • California Government Code, Section 3100

"all public employees are hereby declared to be disaster service workers subject to such disaster activities as may be assigned to them by their superiors or by law"

  • Disaster Service Worker
    • California Labor Code, Section 3211.92

"includes public employees performing disaster work that is outside the course and scope of their regular employment without regard to pay and also includes any unregistered persons impressed into service during a state of war emergency, a state of emergency, or a local emergency by a person having authority to command he aid of citizens in the execution of his or her duties"

  • Disaster Service
    • California Labor Code, Section 3211.93

"means all activities authorized by and carried on pursuant to the California Emergency Services Act, including training necessary or proper to engage in such activities"

Yes, all public employees are Disaster Service Worker's.


The history of the Incident Command System (ICS), the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), and the National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) are all very similar. Each one was developed out of the need for a better way to manage major events or disasters with the challenge being to develop a system that would allow various agencies to work together in the most efficient and effective manner.

The principles of all three were to enable emergency response agencies to utilize common terminology, span of control, organizational flexibility, personnel accountability, comprehensive resource management, unified command and incident action plans. This course is designed to assist you with the basic information you need in order to work within and support emergency response.