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The Province of Ontario Incident Management System (IMS) was produced as part of Ontario’s ever-improving emergency management program. The following organizations were represented on the IMS Steering Committee and contributed to the development of the IMS doctrine.
EMO would also like to acknowledge the Assembly of First Nations with whom contact was maintained during the project.
This Incident Management System (IMS) doctrine for use in Ontario has been developed by Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) with stakeholders’ input through their IMS Steering Committee representatives. Until a new doctrine supersedes this doctrine, amendments may be published from time to time.
The Incident Management System (IMS) is used to manage many types of incidents, whether they evolve from planned or unplanned events. To enhance stakeholder implementation of IMS, provincially supported training opportunities will be offered through a variety of means: an introductory self-study package, as well as in-class basic, intermediate, and advanced courses. In the future, as stakeholders implement and evaluate the Ontario IMS, their experiences will lead to further improvements. Ontario’s IMS doctrine consists of four Modules, namely the Introductory, Response, Enabling, and Supporting Modules. This module provides the context for, and an overview of the IMS doctrine, contained in Chapter 1. The Enabling Module covers the preparedness requirements that are necessary for response organizations to implement a standardized and consistent IMS structure for every incident, regardless of cause, size, complexity, location, or duration. This module contains supporting annexes that provide additional guidance, background material, and reference links for IMS.
Annex A: Guidelines for EOCs provides guidance and options for implementing IMS at an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), and describes how it interfaces with the Incident Command Post (ICP) and Incident Command. Annex C: IMS Tools includes samples of recommended IMS tools such as forms, map symbols, job sheets, workbook, templates, check lists, field guides, etc. Within Ontario, the emergency management environment is comprised of a diverse mix of emergency management organizations, many of which have implemented or are implementing an incident management system (IMS), invariably based on the ICS that was developed within the fire service. No individual service or organization has the ability to conduct all aspects of incident management.
This doctrine does not involve regulated implementation, nor does it compel an organization to change its response system.
To achieve a standardized IMS that cuts across organizational boundaries may necessarily involve cultural shifts, over time, among some incident management practitioners.
Ontario will have a standardized incident management system (IMS) that provides functional interoperability at all levels of emergency management.
The goal of the Incident Management System is to provide an efficacious, flexible, and consistent structure and process that is scalable to manage incidents by all levels of government, emergency response organizations, communities, ministries, non-government organizations (NGOs), and the private sector. The expectation is that gradually all of Ontario’s response organizations will implement the Ontario IMS and will train their personnel in the content of this doctrine to the extent deemed necessary by their respective organizations.
The Steering Committee is coordinated by Emergency Management Ontario and reports to Ontario’s Commissioner of Community Safety. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre’s Canadian National Training Curriculum (2002). The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act sets out the requirements and obligations with respect to emergency management programs, and emergency plans. The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Canadian Emergency Management and Business Continuity Program Standard (CSA Z1600) establish a common set of criteria for disaster management, emergency management, and business continuity programs2.
Following the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Government of Ontario recognized the need to move decisively to implement comprehensive reforms to emergency management, consistent with international best practices. The Government of Ontario identified the need to implement an approach to emergency management that would permit ministries, communities, organizations, institutions, and industry to operate more cohesively. Lessons learned from these events have reinforced the need for Ontario to continually improve its emergency management program.
In Ontario, many emergency response organizations have been using some form of incident management protocol.
Another lesson learned from Katrina was that a lack of coordination among organizations resulted in under-utilization of available resources and failure to deploy resources that were available. To assist with explaining the doctrine, standard terms are defined and used throughout this document. The Incident Management System (IMS) is a standardized approach to emergency management encompassing personnel, facilities, equipment, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure.
Emergency means a situation or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property, and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise. Incident means an occurrence or event, natural or human-caused that requires an emergency response to protect life, property, or the environment. A Responder is anyone involved in the response to an incident, and who contributes to the resolution of problems brought about by the incident. This chapter provides a toolbox of organizational structures, terms and processes to use during simple and complex incident responses. In many instances, response organizations are able to successfully resolve incidents single-handedly.
One of IMS’ strengths is the ability to change the organizational structure to fit the activity level of an incident. Technological interoperability (such as telecommunications interoperability) should allow for the sharing of information among responders, as well as with other jurisdictions. Functional interoperability may be achieved through the application and use of standardized terminologies, structures, and procedures amongst responders. IMS provides a standardized structure and functions for managing incidents, which allow stakeholders to work together using a common approach and understanding.
The simplicity and flexibility of the IMS structure make it suitable to expand and contract. IMS may be applied in small, simple, or large, complex incidents, as it is easily adaptable to any given scenario.
The IMS framework is modular and scalable in terms of structure and processes, with discrete but interrelated functional components.
IMS requires integrated communications to ensure that all jurisdictions and organizations participating in the response to an incident can communicate and transmit incident information in a timely manner across jurisdictional lines, and establish an emergency information management system. An underlying principle of IMS is the need to optimize the number of subordinates reporting to a supervisor11 in the interest of greater efficiency. IMS operates on a defined and specific command and control structure that provides an orderly line of command and accountability, and which is based on the function to be performed and the expertise of the incident management staff, rather than rank, organization or jurisdiction.
Command of an incident may be exercised through a single command process when one response organization has jurisdictional or functional responsibility for the incident, or under a unified command process, where multiple response organizations or jurisdictions have jurisdictional or functional responsibility for the incident.
All functional areas and jurisdictional levels remain responsible for their own actions at all times during an incident.
IMS provides processes for categorizing, ordering, dispatching, tracking, and recovering resources. Incident management requires the ability to sustain response activities until either a predetermined end-point, or the end of the incident. Every incident, regardless of size, requires that certain management functions be performed. There are five major management functions that are the foundation upon which the IMS organization develops, regardless of what the incident is. The Ontario Mass Evacuation Plan is a supporting plan to the Provincial Emergency Response Plan (PERP).
For more information on the legislative framework and authorities, see the PERP available on the EMO website. This plan supports the agreement between the Governments of Ontario and Canada (through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) to provide emergency response support to First Nation communities in the province.
An EMO planning team in consultation with non-governmental organizations, provincial and federal partners developed the plan. This plan is meant to be used to respond to a request for a partial or complete evacuation from one or more communities to one or more host communities. Provincial coordination will involve the evacuating community, host communities, relevant Ontario ministries, federal departments, non-governmental organizations, and others, as required. This plan is for Ontario’s far north, encompassing municipalities, unorganized territories2 and First Nation communities.
This is an overarching plan for carrying out mass evacuations and as such, many aspects are general in nature4.
The Far North of Ontario spans the width of the province, from Manitoba in the west, to James Bay and Quebec in the east. The far north is subject to several hazards covered under Ontario’s Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment. The geography of the far north may complicate evacuations or efforts to manage or suppress the hazard. Maintain family and community unity, which is integral to maintaining community cohesion and supports. Potential threats to the communities and emergency responders are critical in determining the urgency of the evacuation and for planning resource mobilization. Real-time threat assessment should be ongoing and coordinated among partners, particularly ministries with relevant OIC responsibilities and the community(ies) at risk. An OIC ministry or the PEOC may recommend evacuation, or that it is safe to return, based on a real-time threat assessment.
The availability, duration, type, and location of host community facilities affect planning for the evacuation. Consideration should be given to maintaining the readiness of host communities for future hosting. Evacuating communities should identify Community Evacuation Liaisons for each host community. The decision to deploy is typically based on requests from impacted communities, the mandate of the organization deploying staff, and staff member’s level of expertise.
Depending on the scale and complexity of the operation, a senior provincial official may be deployed to coordinate the provincial response and to liaise with community and other deployed officials. Situational awareness requires continuous coordination to help collect, collate, evaluate, and disseminate information.
When planning for the return of evacuees, the number and location of host communities, and the distance to evacuated communities are key planning considerations.
Roles and responsibilities may pertain to transportation hubs, host communities, support from ministries or the federal government, or responsibilities of evacuating communities. Determine the financial and legislative roles and responsibilities for the evacuation and comply with applicable policies, agreements, procedures, etc.
Emergency information needs to be coordinated among the affected communities, province, and federal government. Once it has been decided that a community needs complete or partial evacuation, the parties involved must establish who the evacuees are, where the host locations are, and what the means of evacuation will be. Following the judgement of the authorized entity that it is safe for evacuees to return, the order of return and the methods of transportation must be established using an inclusive planning process that involves affected communities, provincial and federal partners, and other partners (i.e. Real-time threat assessment is a critical component of evacuation operations and should be ongoing. All responders involved in managing the hazard or participating in the evacuation must regularly communicate situational awareness information to those conducting real-time threat assessments and must report a changing situation as soon as feasible. OIC ministries are responsible for assessing the threat for the types of emergencies they have been assigned. EMO is responsible for real-time threat assessments for hazards that have not been assigned to an OIC ministry. The PEOC is responsible for assessing the threat based on the real-time threat assessment and characteristics of the community(ies) or region under threat. During routine monitoring, the PEOC duty officer performs the function of real-time threat assessment. OIC ministries routinely monitor conditions in the province according to their assigned type of emergency. Uncertainty in real-time threat assessment is unavoidable, which is why persons with appropriate knowledge of the threat causing the emergency should be involved in the assessment. During emergencies, the PEOC links with the local community and the OIC ministry acting as provincial lead to coordinate real-time threat assessment information. Emergency managers must understand the makeup of the population who are to be evacuated before they can make key decisions about transportation modes, route selections, hosting destinations, and the many other elements of an evacuation. Medevac is used for those individuals receiving home care or residing in a health-care facility in the evacuating community that qualify for medical transfer as per the Ambulance Act (evacuation by emergency medical services (EMS) or Ornge). This stage is typically orchestrated through the existing health procedures used in the community. This includes persons with disabilities, seniors, children, pregnant women, and those with medical conditions.
Among these, some require attendant care, which means both the caregiver and the Stage 1 evacuee they care for should be on the Stage 1 evacuation list.
The designation of evacuees into the different stages will be determined by the First Nation Chief and Council, Head of Council, or appointed person, with the assistance of the on-site health care organization.
Different types of hazards may dictate variations in the criteria for these categories (e.g. The decision to evacuate a community is the responsibility of the First Nation Chief, Head of Council, or appointed person. For First Nations communities, AANDC and PS approve federal assistance to support an evacuation. The urgency of an evacuation is determined based on the immediacy of the threat to the community (life, safety, health, and welfare), the resilience of the community, and (depending on the nature of the threat) the availability of resources for evacuation or shelter-in-place10.
Evacuations may take place prior to (pre-emptive), during, or after an incident has occurred. Given adequate warning about a hazard, adequate resources, and the likelihood of the threat actually impacting a community, it is advisable to conduct pre-emptive evacuations. If adequate resources are not available to conduct a pre-emptive evacuation, it may still be possible and necessary to carry out an evacuation even while a threat is already affecting a community. If recommending enhanced monitoring or activation of the PEOC, consider what positions must be staffed to conduct the evacuation.
Alert PS of the situation and advise them if Government of Canada support may be required to assist.
Establish a regular information cycle and contact for evacuating communities, host communities, and other parties assisting with the evacuation. Consider requesting additional host communities stand-by to receive evacuees if the situation appears likely to escalate rapidly. Establish the PEOC Command, and if it is an area or unified command, consider including additional organizations in the command meetings to better inform and coordinate the response. Determine financial accountabilities in consultation with partners and communicate the information. Determine at the outset of the operations which organization will be responsible for information management and the manner in which information will be shared. Initiating media contacts or directing the appropriate position to do this according to established plans and procedures (e.g. Adopting an extended operational cycle in which extra positions are staffed beyond the normal working day.
Alerting other emergency responders in the province, including non-governmental organizations, that they may be requested to provide assistance.
Marshalling transportation resources, including the recall of deployed resources in preparation for redeployment.
Collecting and analyzing the data necessary to fully understand the potential impact and threat. Weather, resource availability, and the scale of an incident can significantly affect the time required to mobilize resources. Emergency information is primarily the community’s responsibility, but may be supplemented by the province according to the provisions of the Provincial Emergency Information Plan. Communications between the field and the PEOC, between the PEOC and partners, and within the PEOC is critical. The PEOC (or other EOC) may request deployments to fulfil specific incident management functions, as needed (e.g. Where the scale of the incident, evacuation timeline, or availability of staff prevents the physical deployment of staff, relevant incident management functions may be performed remotely using available technology. Information technology in the far north is not universally accessible and may be further compromised by the nature of the emergency. All partners (but with specific reference to PEOC) should recognize the potential limitations to information technology in these regions of the province. The priorities for evacuation will be determined by the Chief and Council (for a First Nation), the Head of Council (for a municipality), or an authorized entity. Transportation planning for the evacuation will be undertaken by a joint planning team as described in Annex 7.
The evacuating community should identify community evacuation liaisons at each of the host community sites to support evacuees.
If an evacuation involves a First Nation community, the JEMS Service Level Evacuation Standards provides a sample flight manifest.
Service Level Evacuation Standards11 are in place for hosting First Nations community members in the event of an evacuation. Through the PEOC, EMO works with the evacuating First Nation to identify a host community or communities for its evacuees. The selection and preparation of host facilities should be driven by the needs of the evacuees.
Another key consideration is the availability of personnel and other resources to support the host facilities. Potential conflicts with the longer-term use of accommodations in the host community should be considered and mitigated if possible (e.g. The PEOC should begin contingency planning with partners for longer-term evacuations if it appears likely that evacuees will be displaced from their community for longer than the period discussed below.
When evacuees are members of a First Nation, the use of any facility that was used as, or could evoke comparisons to, residential schools should be avoided. Communities considering acting as a host community during an evacuation should identify emergency shelter facilities. Short-Term Basic Shelter Services: for a period of 1-14 days, in arenas, gymnasiums, recreation halls, etc. Special Accommodations: to address the requirements of medically vulnerable individuals or those with special needs. Host communities may be limited in the types of accommodations that they are able to provide.
Planning for hosting evacuees builds on information already available (typically from the manifest). Host communities are responsible for registering evacuees that are entering into their care. Registration records should only be shared with organizations providing services to the evacuees (e.g.
Before the return of evacuees, the evacuated community should be in a safe and ready state.
Services have resumed and are sufficient to support returning evacuees – for example, power, water, sanitation, security, food and essential supplies, and medical services.
If a community was completely evacuated it may be advisable to begin the return of evacuees with essential workers to restart systems and assess the readiness of the community to receive other returning evacuees. Once approval has been given for all or a part of the population to return home, community leaders, working with community evacuation liaisons, will develop priorities and manifests for the return flights. Ground transportation arrangements may be made by the host community or the provincial government.
The evacuated community will take the lead for communicating re-entry procedures, with assistance from partners as required. What media sources can evacuees use for the most up-to-date information on re-entry procedures? Following a regional evacuation, multiple communities may decide at the same time that they are ready to return evacuees. The PEOC and partners will commence demobilization as host communities are cleared of evacuees. The Quick Reference Guide is a condensed version of the Ontario Mass Evacuation Plan Part 1: Far North. This Guideline was INTERIM APPROVED by the IMS Steering Committee on December 1, 2011 and is made available to stakeholders for a 1-year review period, ending on November 30, 2012. These Position Checklists list the key tasks for all major functions within Ontario’s Incident Management System (IMS). Position Checklists are a supporting tool to the IMS Doctrine and IMS Training Program, which provide additional guidance on the use of IMS processes and activities. For large organizations or complex incidents, staff may be assigned to every IMS function or position.
These checklists may be used for all IMS response roles, including: Incident Support, Incident Command, and Area Command.


Activation Phase activities should be referenced at the start of each incident, operational period and shift.
These checklists may be used for each of these response roles, with specific functions and taskings customized to each role, as required. All other positions may be activated in any role, with specific taskings customized as required.
Additional details may be referenced in the below table, in addition to the IMS Doctrine (Chapter 3) and Guidelines for the Application of IMS at EOCs. This listing provides an overview of the common responsibilities applicable to all IMS personnel.
Establish and maintain an Activity Log Form (IMS 214) that chronologically describes your actions taken during your shift. Conduct all tasks in a manner that ensures safety and welfare of you and your co-workers utilizing accepted risk analysis methods.
Complete forms and reports required of the assigned position and send through the supervisor to the Planning Section (Documentation Unit, if activated). If another person is relieving you, ensure they are thoroughly briefed before you leave your workstation. Send all completed forms and reports through your supervisor to the Planning Section (Documentation Unit, if activated). The EOC Commander is responsible for the overall management of the Emergency Operations Centre, including the provision of support to an Incident Management Team at a site or EOC. In addition to Incident Support, it is important for organizations to maintain essential services.
If operating in a support role, determine the needs of the Commander you are supporting (Incident, EOC or Area). Determine which Command Staff positions are required and ensure they are filled as soon as possible. Authorize release of emergency information to the public and media in cooperation with other levels of response.
Obtain and carry out delegation of authority from the organization executive for overall management and direction of the designated incident, if required. Establish and maintain liaison with supporting, or assisting organizations (may be delegated to Liaison Officer). Notify relevant organizations and jurisdictions of the expected planned demobilization time.
The Area Commander is responsible for the overall management of multiple incidents, or to oversee the management of large incidents to which several Incident Management Teams have been assigned. The organization of Area Command is usually small, with personnel assigned to Command, Planning, and Logistics functions, although other functions may be assigned. Obtain and carry out delegation of authority from the organization executive for overall management and direction of the incidents, within the designated Area.
If operating as a Unified Area Command, develop working agreement for how Area Commanders will function together.
Delegate authority to Incident Commanders based on EOC Commander (or organization executive) expectations, concerns and constraints.
The Liaison Officer (LO) serves as the primary contact for Assisting and Supporting Organizations and advises Command of issues related to outside assistance and support, including current or potential inter-organization needs. Establish workspace for Liaison function and notify organization representatives of location.
Interview organization representatives concerning resources, capabilities, and restrictions on use. Work with Emergency Information Officer and Command to coordinate media releases associated with inter-organizational cooperation issues. The Emergency Information Officer (EIO) is responsible for the development and release of approved emergency information to the public.
Establish workspace for Emergency Information function and notify organization representatives.
Determine staffing requirements and make required personnel assignments for the Emergency Information Centre (EIC) or Joint Emergency Information Centre (JEIC), as necessary. Contact and correspond with local jurisdictions to coordinate emergency information activities.
Assess the need for special alert and warning efforts, including for persons with special needs, and industries. Observe constraints on the release of information imposed by Command and according to organization guidance. Release approved emergency information to media, and post information at the Incident Command Post, EOC and other appropriate locations.
Coordinate information releases with information staff from other impacted organizations and jurisdictions.
Provide all news releases, bulletins, and summaries to the Documentation Unit to be included in the final incident package. Confirm with all concerned, the process for the release of information concerning incident-related injuries or deaths.
The Safety Officer (SO) monitors safety conditions and develops safety measures to ensure the health and safety of all responders. Coordinate critical incident stress, hazardous materials, and other debriefings, as necessary.
The Operations Section Chief (OSC) is responsible for providing overall supervision and leadership to the Operations Section, including assisting in the development of the Incident Action Plan, implementing the Incident Action Plan and organizing, assigning and supervising all resources assigned operational tasks within an incident. Ensure that the Operations Section is set up properly and that appropriate personnel, equipment, and supplies are in place, including maps and status boards. Confer with the Command to ensure that the Planning and Logistics Sections are staffed at levels necessary to provide adequate information and support for operations. Coordinate with the Liaison Officer regarding the need for Organization Representatives in the Operations Section. Holders of the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan Implementing Plan for Transborder Nuclear Emergency are responsible for keeping it updated by incorporating amendments, which may be issued from time to time. This public document is administered by the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services of Ontario. It is necessary that everyone involved in the preparation and implementation of the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan employ common terminology. The aim of the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP) Implementing Plan for a Transborder Nuclear Emergency, is to prescribe the measures that should be undertaken to deal with a nuclear emergency caused by an accident or event occurring at a nuclear installation* outside Ontario, which could affect the province. Banning the consumption of milk, food and water that may have been contaminated, and banning their export outside the affected area.
Removing milk and meat producing animals from pasture and access to open water sources, and supplying them with uncontaminated feed and water. Restricting the harvesting or processing of potentially or actually contaminated crops, vegetables and fruits, and banning their export outside the affected area.
Ordering the quarantine of livestock in the affected area to prevent movement to other areas, and banning slaughter of such animals for food. Ontario is developing agreements with adjoining jurisdictions containing Near Incident sites regarding the arrangements for mutual aid assistance in the event of a nuclear emergency originating in one of them (or in Ontario). This Transborder Implementing Plan shall be implemented whenever the PEOC receives notification of a Transborder incident that may affect Ontario. If at any stage the probable answer to both these questions is in the affirmative, proceed to Enhanced Monitoring (see below). The PEOC will arrange for information on the incident, and the measures being taken to deal with it, to be issued to the media and the public, as deemed appropriate. The information can then be used to direct ground monitoring resources to carry out more detailed field surveys, in areas of concern to develop a more refined contamination picture. Headed by the Radiation Protection Service of the Ministry of Labour, this group implements monitoring programs, in areas adjacent to a radioactive release which do not require protective measures against radiation. The area within which exposure control measures are likely to be needed, based on the results of field monitoring. This zone provides a buffer area beyond the Restricted Zone, where limited measures of radioactivity are detected. All survey teams will be equipped with radiation monitoring and personal protective equipment, by their parent organization, and should restrict their doses to as low as reasonably achievable. The Province, through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, together with the Federal government, will assist those seeking fair compensation for their losses, as a result of this emergency. 2.2 However, for incidents at nuclear facilities which fall below the General emergency classification and are not as a result of a terrorist attack, the coordinating agency will be either the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for NRC licensed facilities or, the Department of Defense (DOD) or Department of Energy (DOE) for facilities owned or operated by these agencies. 3.1 The state Governor provides direction and control of off-site emergency activities and is responsible for the safety of its citizens. 3.3 The state EMA will request federal assistance and make requests for emergency and disaster declarations. 4.1 Based upon state and nuclear facility recommendations, local governments have decision-making control over the entire local emergency response effort. 4.2 The local government will activate and staff an EOC to coordinate the emergency response effort at that level. The nuclear facility activates its CEOF from which the response to the emergency is controlled and directed, and other facility responsibilities carried out. 1.1 The NRC may become the Lead Federal Agency (LFA) under the Federal Plan, responsible for coordinating all federal on scene actions as well as federal assistance to States and local organizations. 1.3 The NRC oversees the onsite response, and can direct the nuclear facility to take certain actions, as necessary. 1.4 The NRC assists the state in the interpretation and analysis of technical information as a basis for making protective action decisions. 2.1 If the President declares an emergency under the Stafford Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security is the principal Federal official responsible for the coordination of all Federal response activities. The focal point for carrying out the response is the Disaster Field Office, which the agency establishes at an on scene location in consultation with State and local authorities. 3.1 The DOE coordinates offsite radiological monitoring and assessment during the initial phases of the emergency through the Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Centre (see below). Based at the FRMAC, the Advisory Team for the Environment, Food and Health provides guidance and advice on matters associated with environmental, food and health issues.
4.1 EPA is the coordinating agency for the Federal environmental response to incidents that occur at facilities not licensed, owned or operated by a federal agency or an Agreement State.
First of four emergency classification levels, meaning that events are in process or have occurred which indicate a potential degradation of the level of safety of the plant or indicate security threat to facility protection. Second of four emergency classification levels, meaning events are in process or have occurred which involve an actual or potential substantial degradation in the level of safety of the plant or a security event that involves probable life threatening risk to site personnel or damage to site equipment because of intentional malicious dedicated efforts of a hostile act. Third of four emergency classification levels, meaning that events are in process or have occurred which involve an actual or likely major failures of plant functions needed for protection of the public or security events that result in intentional damage or malicious act: (1) toward site personnel or equipment that could lead to the likely failure of (2) prevents effective access to equipment needed for the protection of the public.
Fourth of four emergency classification levels, meaning that events are in process or have occurred which involve actual or imminent substantial core degradation or melting with a potential for loss of containment integrity or security events that result in an actual loss of physical control of the facility. 1.1 The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sponsors a convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident (which came into force in 1986). 1.2 Under the convention, signatories have agreed to notify the IAEA and other countries which could be affected in case of a nuclear emergency that could result in a transboundary radiological release. 2.2 The initial information provided is to be supplemented at appropriate intervals by further relevant information as the situation develops, including the foreseeable or actual termination of the emergency.
3.2 For communication of events to the public, a description has been attributed to each level of INES. The development of this doctrine document was sponsored by the Deputy Minister, Community Safety, spearheaded by Emergency Management Ontario (EMO), and developed by a multi-organizational IMS Steering Committee, supported by several Working Groups. Refer any unresolved or substantive matters to the EMO Secretariat, by contacting the publications management at the email address listed in the Publications Management section. A Permanent IMS Steering Committee is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the IMS doctrine. Users of this document are recommended to use the amendment form below to keep a record of approved amendments.
First and foremost is to provide a single, province-wide incident management system that is capable of ensuring the effective, coordinated response to large-scale and complex incidents by Ontario’s various response organizations.
Even though there has previously been no standardized province-wide system, there is recognition that many organizations have already been using versions or aspects of IMS.
A Permanent Steering Committee will be responsible for maintaining and updating IMS at necessary intervals.
IMS is a standardized emergency management framework consisting of a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure. The Incident Action Plan (IAP) provides a coherent means to develop and communicate the overall incident objectives in the context of both operational and support activities.
Without effective information management, most, if not all of the other critical components that ensure the operability and effectiveness of the IMS will be ineffectual.
Resource management involves coordinating and overseeing the application of tools, processes, and systems that provide incident managers with timely and appropriate resources during an incident. Effective emergency (public) information (EI) management includes the collection, analysis, and dissemination of emergency information to all audiences who need it. Preparedness requirements that are already covered by Ontario’s emergency management program, including current legislation, associated Order in Council, and Regulations, are not duplicated in the IMS document.
The chapter also provides guidance on the process and the role of responders for maintaining the IMS and achieving continuous improvement. An effective and efficient IMS requires having sufficient capacity of responders and resources, ensuring that the resources are appropriate, and having a system to access and manage them. It presents the vision and goals of IMS, an outline of the governance structure used by the team that developed this doctrine, and the standards and references that were used.
Therefore, the need to coordinate response efforts when working jointly is generally recognized. Yet, lessons from past incidents continue to indicate the ever-pressing need for all organizations to be integrated into a standardized incident management system (IMS). This IMS doctrine builds on the strength of current systems by retaining the ICS component and structure. The aim was to ensure a proactive, coordinated, and comprehensive approach to managing emergencies, thereby reducing risks and promoting safe, secure, and disaster resilient communities. Such a system should acknowledge existing emergency management systems and take advantage of their strengths in developing a standardized, province-wide approach.
No one would accept that bureaucratic red tape or cost controls should interfere with proper emergency responses. The IMS is predicated on the understanding that in any and every incident, there are certain management functions that must be carried out regardless of the number of persons who are available or involved in the emergency response.
Interoperability should exist technologically as well as in relation to the performance of IMS functions.
Technological interoperability should encompass all resources likely to be utilised in incident management (e.g. IMS is designed to specifically allow for functional interoperability through the adoption and application of standardization. This flexibility means that only the required components need be activated to provide the functions needed as the situation unfolds. In IMS, one first determines the objectives and then directs all efforts to achieving them. It may be applied by responder organizations, municipal and provincial governments, the private and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) sectors. For communications to be integrated, interoperability and common terminology must exist among participating organizations. To ensure unity of command, each individual should have one clearly designated supervisor, who may or may not come from the same jurisdiction or service. Whether the IMS is operating under a single or unified command structure12, unity of command must be maintained. An emergency operations centre may be needed for organizational or jurisdictional levels with roles and responsibilities that relate to the incident. In order to assure readiness, there should be in place, prior to the incident, a standardized, comprehensive database of resources as well as protocols to access, utilize, and demobilize such resources. It is important to define the roles, relationships and the accountability framework in which organizations collaborate. IMS requires that there should be processes to acquire, analyse, and disseminate information at all levels in a timely manner. The level of sustainability will depend on the capacity of each organization or jurisdiction to furnish the appropriate amounts and types of resources required for the incident. For example, the problem must be identified and assessed, a plan to deal with it developed and implemented, and the necessary resources procured and paid for. In addition, this plan references the Service Level Evacuation Standards1 developed by the Joint Emergency Management Steering (JEMS) Committee.
Updates to the plan will be undertaken as required based on lessons learned from exercises and incident responses. It is a provincial coordination plan outlining how Ontario would coordinate its response and collaborate with federal and municipal governments, First Nations, non-governmental organizations, and ministry partners.
It is not intended for internal evacuations of one part of a community to another part of the same community. This plan does not replace a community’s own emergency response plans, which should contain provisions for evacuations if they consider evacuations likely.
A detailed action plan that addresses the specific scenario, hazard, and threat will still be required.
Evacuations are most frequently caused by forest fires and flooding (most often from spring break-up along the James Bay coast). Communities in the far north may be located significant distances from communities with road access or from regional centres where services may be available (e.g. Damage to property or the environment may also trigger an evacuation if it poses a risk to the safety, health, and welfare of people. It also dictates what level of activation, and how many and what type of resources will be required for the evacuation.
If the evacuation is for one or a few communities, planning may be restricted to movements within the same general geographic area. Therefore, planning should include post-hosting needs, such as financial reconciliation, demobilization support, and reports on issues to be resolved before hosting evacuees in the future.
This allows the incident management team, and all partners, to take informed, effective and consistent actions in a timely manner. However, as the level of activation increases, the PEOC duty officer transfers this function to a technical specialist or team, if available. These ministries have processes in place for transferring the responsibility for real-time threat assessment to specialists within their ministry when required.
All activities and efforts should be focused on moving these people from the at-risk area to places of safety in a timely manner. This list should contain the names of persons needed to restart systems that must be in place before evacuees can return home (e.g. If an authorized entity decides on a partial or complete community evacuation, the community should declare an emergency. A pre-emptive evacuation may be undertaken when it is clear that if delayed, conditions (weather or other hazard) would impede evacuation. Evacuations of this nature are done when life safety is at extreme risk and a rescue becomes essential. For example, evacuations of large populations to one or more host communities may require logistics support to secure modes of transportation from a receiving aerodrome or transportation hub to the host community. Communities are encouraged to make the decision to evacuate as soon as a significant or imminent threat is identified.
In widespread evacuations, emergency information may need to be coordinated amongst all involved partners. To assist with streamlining communications, an operational cycle should be established and communicated by the PEOC to partners so they know when they are expected to provide updates on the situation from their perspective.
Partners should have back-up technologies available, particularly for their deployed staff. It is preferable to host community members together, even if it means hosting them farther away from their home community. Evacuation liaisons represent the needs of evacuees when attending meetings with the host community and other agencies. If the information is not collected on the manifest, registration services can collect and provide this more detailed information. Depending on the scale of the incident, and the numbers and locations of persons to be evacuated, the needs may exceed the capacity of available resources. The Standards provide guidance on allowable expenditures, hosting arrangements, health services, emergency social services, etc. If requested, the PEOC could assist other communities in identifying potential host communities.
It is worth noting that community health services and hospitals in the host community may experience an increased demand for their services. Representatives from provincial (through the PEOC) and federal organizations may be available to assist a host community in providing services to evacuees.


It is generally understood that time of year may affect the host community’s ability to provide accommodations during an evacuation. This allows the host community to better coordinate services and seek reimbursement for expenses incurred due to hosting. The recommendation and the decision to return should be based on the results of the ongoing real-time threat assessment, plus a determination that the home community is ready to support the returning evacuees. This may involve the coordination of an advance team that is given sufficient time and other resources to return the community to a pre-evacuation state. It is critical that at the end of an evacuation, there is a full accounting of the operation in the form of after-action and financial reports. All comments received before November 30, 2012 will be reviewed for inclusion in the final version document. They may be used at an incident site or Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and specific taskings may be adapted for individual circumstances, as required. In many cases, a handful of individuals can effectively manage an entire incident response. Specific tasks in these checklists may be adapted and customized to suit organization and incident-specific needs, while respecting the overall standardization of IMS. Demobilization Phase should be referenced at the end of each incident, operational period and shift. Maintain accountability for assigned personnel with regard to exact location(s) and personal safety and welfare at all times.
Ensure that all in-progress activities, outstanding issues, and follow-up requirements are identified. All forms should be submitted through your supervisor to the Planning Section, as appropriate, prior to your departure. In most cases, the EOC is used for executive decision-making and coordinating off-site support for Incident Command or Area Command. Work with organization staff to declare state of emergency according to organization protocol.
Assign Section Chiefs as appropriate and ensure they are staffing their sections as required. Unless otherwise delegated, all Area Command activities are the responsibility of the Area Commander. The Liaison Officer may be assigned assistants from other organizations also involved in the incident response. While each person who is assigned a leadership role is responsible for the safety of personnel working under their leadership, the Safety Officer is tasked with creating systems and procedures related to the overall health and safety of all incident responders. If potentially unsafe, assist in identifying options, protective actions, or alternate tactics. The Operations Section Chief must work closely with other members of the Command and General Staff to coordinate operational activities.
Ensure that there is adequate communications equipment and frequencies available for the section. The terminology contained in the Glossary, Annex E, should be used for this purpose by all concerned. The main concern would be those areas lying within 80 km (50 miles) of the nuclear facility at which an accident occurs.
From an operational perspective, two types of incidents can be identified, as discussed below. In this case the emission is likely to have a greater impact on areas over which it passes which are closer to its source than those farther away.
Only in exceptional cases would it become necessary for a Secondary Zone municipality to set up a full emergency response organization. These include those covering international notification of a nuclear accident, and the provision of information and assistance in such a situation. Assistance in this regard will be obtained from federal and provincial meteorological agencies. The Federal government may impose restrictions on the import of food items from abroad that may have been contaminated. The PEOC will have the overall responsibility of organizing and coordinating the radiation monitoring resources and utilization of findings. Based on the initial information received, the PEOC may decide to order precautionary ingestion control measures in the Secondary Zone municipalities (Section 5.4 below). If not deployed, ongoing communication linkages will be established and maintained to obtain regular updates on the situation. Following discussions with affected municipality(ies) and if considered appropriate, provincial staff will be dispatched. These measures would be applied within this Restricted Zone as per the Protective Action Levels (PNERP, Master Plan, Annex E). The buffer zone is initially delineated based on the results of preliminary field monitoring.
As arranged by the host EOC, this team will base itself at the State or Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs may be required to assist in their implementation.
Most public information activities will be conducted from the Joint Information Centre (paragraph 4.3 above).
The Advisory Team consists of representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency (section 4.0 below), the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services.
No releases of radioactive material requiring offsite response or monitoring are expected unless further degradation of safety systems occurs. It is the responsibility of the nuclear facility to classify the onsite event and issue the appropriate notification. However, the IAEA has produced an International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) and made it available to member states for adoption. In order of increasing severity, these are: anomaly, incident, serious incident, accident and local consequences, accident with wider consequences3, serious accident and major accident. Members of the Committee and Working Groups participated on a voluntary basis, both in their own time, and in time made available by their respective parent organizations.
This publication is made available by EMO for the use of all within the emergency management community.
The Permanent IMS Steering Committee will make amendments to the doctrine as necessary, and will advise users of any changes.
The standardized functions under IMS are Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance & Administration. Lessons from previous complex emergencies have demonstrated the need for such a standardized incident management system to avoid confusion and enhance response. While the full expansion of the IMS structure may appear complex, this would occur only during complex incidents, and would serve to maintain the optimum span of control by injecting appropriate supervisory levels.
In view of the different levels and sizes of stakeholder organizations, the guidance document must recognize that implementation must be done in a manner best suited to each organization. Recommendations should be submitted to Emergency Management Ontario and the Permanent Steering Committee. Events that involve multiple jurisdictions or multiple incidents may require a unified command model.
Effective information management ensures the maintenance of a common operating picture that allows the person or team managing the incident, and all supporting levels to take effective and consistent actions in a timely manner. The IMS ensures that resources move quickly and efficiently to support incident managers and responders by standardizing the procedures, methodologies, and functions involved in these processes. Some may be established in pre-designated areas having existing structures, which may be used in their entirety or only in part, while others may be established using temporary structures set up solely for managing the incident.
During major incidents, demand for EI is often overwhelming, necessitating speedy public distribution of emergency information, alerts, and warnings. Nevertheless, there has been a variance of approaches within Ontario, a lack of standardized tools to manage incidents, and hence no single province-wide system to ensure effective coordination. There is wide buy-in for this approach, and coupled with training, province-wide implementation is envisaged over time. The Incident Management System (IMS) was found to be the most appropriate basis to accomplish these outcomes3. Examples of relief assistance include the outbreak of wildfires in British Columbia in 2003, and Hurricane Katrina that devastated the US Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. Because state and local officials were overwhelmed and the Department of Homeland Security and DOD waited for requests for assistance rather than deploying a proactive response, some of the military’s available communication assets were never requested or deployed. Since an incident may be geographically dispersed, and changing, it may be inaccurate to describe the incident itself based only on specific geographic boundaries. The IMS ensures that resources move quickly and efficiently to support incident responders by standardizing the procedures, methodologies, and functions involved in these processes. Where the tools presented do not fully meet their needs, customization based on the standardized principles and terminology presented below is encouraged. Conversely, when the activity level of an incident decreases, the IMS incident organization structure can contract to match new needs.
Results are documented for analysis and evaluation, and where necessary, corrective actions are taken. As many of the communities in the far north are First Nations, coordination with the federal government is crucial. Two communities falling within the focus area have road access (Mishkeegogamang and Pickle Lake) and there is a rail link to one municipality (Moosonee).
However, the evacuation of multiple communities due to an area-wide emergency is likely to require out-of-area movements for hosting, particularly when the goal is to keep families and communities together. The size and demographics of the population are significant factors in determining how to conduct an evacuation. This would include: scheduling such that staff do not become overly fatigued by the operation and providing as much advance notice of scheduling as is possible given the nature of the incident. In addition, up-to-date contact lists should be maintained by all organizations for use in an emergency. Alternate technologies that may be utilized in an evacuation include satellite phones and amateur radio. They should also be identified to the host community as resources that may be called upon to assist evacuees. This mitigates the risk of families being separated and makes the return of evacuees less complicated.
Evacuation liaisons also assist with creating manifests and determining the order of the return of evacuees in consultation with the Chief, Head of Council, or appointed person from the home community.
Once a flight manifest is prepared, it should be sent to the PEOC, which can in turn forward it to other organizations that require the information. Receiving the information in advance can help ensure that needed services are delivered quickly.
In this situation, evacuations may need to be prioritized and contingency plans implemented. While the Standards provide guidance on hosting First Nations, they may also be applied to municipal or unorganized territory evacuations as they pertain to hosting arrangements. While agreements may exist between EMO and a host community, the community retains the option of not hosting during a particular evacuation. Emergency planners should assess proposed facilities based on location, capabilities, capacity, accessibility, and resources, as well as how they would route evacuee traffic. Municipal departments involved in the development of the host facility plan may be able to provide resources to support the set-up and operation of a host facility. Registration involves creating a municipal record, which is covered under municipal privacy legislation. Since the degree of damage will likely vary within the affected area, it might be beneficial to initiate a phased re-entry process. In most instances, people are returned in the reverse order of when they were evacuated (i.e. As with the initial evacuation, numerous resources, especially personnel and transportation related resources will be required to return evacuees to their home community. It also shows the various partners likely to be involved in an evacuation, broadly reflecting the actions that fall within their jurisdiction.
Building on the principles and concepts of the IMS Doctrine for Ontario, checklists are a valuable reference tool for incident response and training purposes. Individuals that are assigned a supervisory position should be familiar with the positions or functions under their direct supervision. Some tasks are one-time actions, while other tasks are repetitive for the duration of the incident. This support typically involves the setting of strategic guidance, information support, resource management support, legal support, financial support, among other forms of off-site support.
Unless otherwise delegated, all EOC activities are the responsibility of the EOC Commander.
This is done in close conjunction with Command and the Operations Section Chief and the Planning Section Chief. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), may be required to assist in the implementation. It will therefore be necessary to continue an elaborate field-monitoring program to keep track of this changing radiological situation. Ingestion control measures may be applied within this zone based on guidance provided by the Protective Action Levels (PNERP Master Plan, Annex E), and in accordance with direction provided by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Stakeholders are encouraged to review and evaluate the IMS doctrine as they use it and to submit comments and suggestions. Standardized processes allow all who respond to the same incident to formulate a unified plan to manage the incident. It was also decided to develop an Ontario-specific IMS in order to respect and incorporate the unique structures and relationships that exist within Ontario, while ensuring that the system would also be consistent with other systems practised in contiguous states, and provinces. That is why this IMS doctrine was developed with the input of a wide cross-section of the public, and private sectors and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) stakeholders, who represent the views of associations, service organizations, and the three levels of government. Multiple levels of command, possibly including response organizations, as well as municipal, provincial, or federal levels of government, may also be involved in managing the incident.
Each IAP is related to one operational period, usually a period of 12 to 24 hours, and provides incident supervisory personnel with measurable performance outcomes to be achieved during this period. Internal information management relies on interoperability both in terms of telecommunications equipment, and the processes for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information. The requirements of the incident and the decisions of Command will determine the specific kinds and types of facilities used and their locations. Therefore, IMS strongly encourages a standard approach to building response capacity that includes mutual aid and assistance agreements established prior to an emergency or incident. Implementing IMS will strengthen their ability to more effectively and efficiently carry out their response obligations under the Act. In such a case, it would be feasible to describe the response to the incident in terms of the geographic boundaries that fall under the jurisdiction of the team managing the response.
Multiple levels of command, possibly including emergency response organizations, as well as municipal, provincial, or federal levels of government, may also be involved in managing the incident. This flexibility makes it a cost effective and efficient management approach for both small and large incidents.
The IAP may be modified during an operational period, should circumstances or information change. Measures to ensure sustainability include deliberately maintaining excess capacity or designating alternates who possess the same level of authority and qualifications as those whom they will replace or relieve.
This plan supports the activities being undertaken related to mass evacuation planning for ministry and community emergency management programs. There are two municipalities that fall within the focus area (Moosonee and Pickle Lake) plus more than 30 First Nation communities. This is facilitated through liaison that may be in place between OIC ministries and federal departments - for example, between the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Health Canada and Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN).
Alternatively, the Chief of the First Nation, Head of Council, or an appointed person may decide to conduct a complete or partial evacuation based on an assessment of the threat to area residents. This approach minimizes potentially having people in harm’s way and enables a more controlled evacuation and optimization of resources.
Where possible, identify the positions, rather than individuals who may be involved in the operation. Notwithstanding this recommended practice, a host community’s capacity may be such that it is unable to accommodate an entire community. In the event that the list of potential host communities is insufficient for the size of evacuation pending, the PEOC will solicit additional host communities.
Details on the set-up and operation of the shelter should be provided in the community’s emergency response plan. Each municipality has the responsibility for managing the record in accordance with the applicable legislation and their municipal policies.
The Chief of a First Nation, Head of Council of a municipality, or appointed person, will decide when to allow evacuees to return to the community. They are designed to assist responders and organizations in effectively responding to incidents in all three IMS response roles: Incident Support, Incident Command and Area Command. Any questions or issues regarding checklist activities may be directed to an immediate supervisor, or referenced in available IMS materials (IMS Doctrine, guidelines, tools, job aids, etc.). Unless otherwise delegated, all incident activities are the responsibility of the Incident Commander. The Safety Officer must have the knowledge and professional experience to be able to control or reduce occupational hazards and exposures. As more accurate data is accumulated, the boundaries of these zones and therefore ingestion control measures will be appropriately adjusted.
The use of standardized IMS plain-language terminology reduces the risk of miscommunication among the many responders. Their participation has helped to ensure that the doctrine addresses their organizational interests, and should lead to broad stakeholder implementation, as organizations reference IMS in appropriate policies, plans, and procedures.
The models used, and levels involved are dependant on the type, size, and complexity of the incident. Combining the two concepts, an incident site then is the geographic area in which the management team with the most direct hands-on response roles operates. The IAP may also need to be revised prior to the commencement of the next operational period. If the number of subordinates falls outside of this range, expansion or contraction of the organization may be necessary. It draws linkages to various hazard management plans and procedures developed by ministries.
The exact population at any one time is difficult to report as people who are recorded in the census may be away from the community and some who are not recorded may be in the community. Unorganized territories, fly-in lodges and camps, and mining operations also fall into the plan area. The seasonal roads cannot be relied on for evacuation operations given the short and sometimes unpredictable length of time that they are available. Local populations often provide the best information on the threat to their community and the region.
Emergency responders may require personal protective equipment, as responder safety will be critical. Where an entire community may not be hosted together in close proximity to the home community, and if the situation allows, the community’s preference should be discussed with the Head of Council, First Nation Chief, or appointed person.
The primary reason for returning the most vulnerable people last is to help ensure that support services are in place when they return.
At this time, this briefing is the only place where officials authorized to speak about the incident and confirmed information will be available.
The current edition of this plan supersedes and replaces all older versions which should be destroyed. Adopting the principles of IMS, and implementing them in a consistent manner, will contribute towards more effective & efficient incident management, hence making Ontario safer and more disaster resilient. In routine, repetitive environments with lower-risk assignments, or where resources work in very close proximity to each other, it may be acceptable to exceed the standard recommended span of control. For example, there may be people staying at fly-in lodges that do not report year-round population.
Conversely, in complex incidents where safety is a major factor or where there is a large distance between resources, it may be advisable to lower the span of control limit. Similarly, there may be community events that draw tourist and other visitors to the community.
Incidents can include major disasters, terrorist attacks or threats, emergencies related to wild-land and urban fires, floods, hazardous materials spills, nuclear events, aircraft emergencies, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms, war-related disasters, public health and medical emergencies, and other emergencies.




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