The Unified Command Explained

SAN FRANCISCO – In every major incident involving multiple agencies, a unified command is always established. This is a method by which local, state and federal agencies who have jurisdictional responsibility, collaborate together and establish a unified message with the responsible party.

Capt. Paul Gugg, from the U.S. Coast Guard, Steve Edinger, from the California Department of Fish and Game, and Barry McFarland, representing the responsible party, are organized together in the unified command to develop and achieve plans to restore the Bay Area’s shoreline.

These three people will develop overall objectives for the management of this incident. In this particular case, the unified command directs the operations of more than 1,360 response workers and volunteers, 45 support vessels , six active skimmers, 13 shoreline cleanup teams, 6 shoreline assessment teams (SCAT), 11 wildlife teams, three aircraft, and planning the operations of 27 beach cleanup operations victim of the oil spill. The unified command team and those under their leadership, are all working tirelessly to save additional marine wildlife and protect the fragile ecosystems that make up the Bay Area’s waterways and beaches.

“This has been one of the smoothest operations I’ve been a part of, given the scale of this operation,” said Steve Edinger.

Through the unified command’s planning, information can flow into the joint information center (JIC), and all of the varying branches making up the incident command post (ICP). With a consistent message and information, that is provided from the them, the JIC can answer media calls, develop press releases, and create talking points to give to the media and public. Along with the JIC, the ICP depends on the direction of the unified command to conduct their operations to ensure not only the successful completion of the operations and evolutions, but also to ensure that all of the evolutions inside of the building are running smoothly.

Running electricity, internet, food, supplies, and the remaining logistical needs of everyone involved in the ICP and out in the field, are all things constructed through the ICP under the direction of the unified command. These decisions guided by them, allow operations from within the ICP and out in the field to move smoothly and effectively to inform the public as well as protect the marine wildlife affected by this tragic incident.

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