Esnara: The Covid-19 ICS and task forces

Magangan Stan Column

SOME colleagues in the different local government units (LGUs) here are seeking guidance in the activation of Incident Command System (ICS) vis-à-vis task forces created as per Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) orders. Accordingly, the task force is to be led by the Mayor who is to ensure, among others, that local health authorities have the necessary equipment, protective gadgets, and transport vehicles for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients.

The ICS, on the other hand, is activated by the Mayor who authorizes someone other than himself to led the Incident Management Team (IMT) and accomplish objectives that he wants with respect to the particular incident. The challenge arises because the ICS uses task forces to group skilled (hands-on) responders of different calibers to work on the ground. If we insert the task force required by the DILG in the system, it would cause confusion between our ground workers and decision-makers.

To clarify this, we must consider what will the Task Force of the DILG do. Aside from that mentioned above, the Task Force will help contain the spread of the disease, implement the Department of Health (DOH) protocols and guidelines, extend full cooperation with the DOH, etc. If we look deeper into our Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) organization, such functions are inter-related to what our health cluster does. This, therefore, suggests that the required task force is actually the health cluster in the local government unit, and it is supposed to be existing in all LGUs. Personally, I would just have called it Health Cluster to be in line with the cluster approach introduced by the World Health Organization.

Nevertheless, so as not to be confused, we have to keep in mind that they are the Task Force of the MDRRMC for the Covid-19, (but is actually the Health Cluster of our LGU’s Response Clusters). They will form part of those who are at the Operations Center (OpCen) to provide for the Incident Management Team (who are on the Ground Implementing the ICS for Covid-19) and make sure all the guidelines are implemented and objectives are attained.

So how will the ICS work with the task force created for Covid-19?

Whoever is delegated to become the Incident Commander (IC) must take into account technicalities of the work to be done. I will suggest therefore that members of the Incident Management Team in the ICS for Covid-19 are health practitioners (doctors, BHWs, nurses, midwives, BNS, etc.) of the LGU concerned. And, actually, this is why DOH Center for Health Development in the Cordillera Administrative Region has been training health practitioners in ICS since last year. It will ensure that all directives and guidelines of the DOH, even when it is technical, are well implemented, in a proper way. There is nothing to worry about help from other departments (engineering, MDRRMO, General Services, Mayor’s office) because they are members of the task force who are at the operations center tasked to provide assistance when required. That should solve everything right now.

By the way, last week, I am among the trainers sent by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD-CAR) through DOH-CAR, in Sagada to train some Municipal Health Services Office Staffs and Doctors from parts of Mountain Province in Basic ICS Course. I am happy that I was able to once more share the Ideas of the ICS and the Taskforce in it.

Thank you to the training team members, co-instructors Vanessa Sito, Harvey Lee, Allan Colt Lagasca, Crismar Farnican, Jonas Chumacog for the support, assistance and new learnings, and DOH-CAR HEMS energetic officers, Dr. Mary Jane Grace Muñoz, Ma’am Melanie June Caleño, and Sir Rock Tubaña, for the trust as your partners in this activity. Mabuhay po kayo! Awan ti “Why?” ta ada pay ti “Martys.”


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