HICS has five main elements that work together and allows a hospital to effectively manage an incident:
- Develop a command structure that eliminates duplication, can be scaled to fit the needs of the incident, and follows a reasonable span of control (bigger incidents need more leaders)
- Integrate people from different parts of the hospital and from outside agencies into the command structure
- Identify needs and establish objectives to resolve the incident
- Develop strategies to achieve the objectives
- Provide support and direction to those responsible for carrying out the objectives (the tactical response)
Best practices to make HICS work start with planning. Someone should be named as the Emergency Program Manager to plan and guide the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). There should also be a space in the hospital dedicated for use as a Hospital Command Center (HCC) in the case of an incident requiring a HICS response. Ideally, the HCC will have multiple, dedicated phone lines and internet connectivity. In a modern facility, the HCC should have redundancies to ensure that it can continue to operate even if the facility loses power.