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11 April 2018 Photo Leonie Bolleurs
First accredited ICS training in SA presented at UFS
Prof Andries Jordaan, Head of DiMTEC, with Greg Archer from the United States Forest Services, and Yong Sebastian Nyam, a DiMTEC PhD student from Cameroon.

The University of the Free State’s (UFS) Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (DiMTEC) and the Free State Umbrella Fire Protection Association (FSUFPA) presented the first training exercise in the Free State, offering practical experience regarding the implementation of the Incident Command System (ICS) under simulated emergency conditions.

An Exercise Coordination Team (ECT), consisting of US instructors, under the leadership of Mike Kopitzke from the United States Forest Services, together with Johann Breytenbach from FSUFPA and supported by local personnel, facilitated the exercise.

Training complete with sand table exercise 

This dual site desktop exercise took place at the Rooipoort Training Centre outside Dewetsdorp and the DiMTEC offices in the Agriculture Building on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. The Incident Management Team (IMT) training – complete with a sand table exercise   was presented at Rooipoort, At the same time a simulation of an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was offered at the DiMTEC offices. 

According to Prof Andries Jordaan, Head of DiMTEC, the exercise was based on a variety of actual scenarios that had previously taken place elsewhere in the Free State. The exercise simulated a train and bus accident on the Thaba Nchu road. “Using an incident like this keeps the training realistic and relevant,” he said.

In these exercises the work of different departments, including South African Police Services (SAPS), South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Transnet, Spoornet, Traffic Department, and Eskom are coordinated. “We would like to work with the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) to implement a uniform Incident management system in South Africa where all departments speak the same language and have the same understanding of the role and responsibilities of a command structure,” Prof Jordaan said.

Accredited training the outcome
In 2017 Prof Jordaan, General Elias Mahlabane from the SAPS, and Johan Breytenbach from the FSUFPA, attended an incident command course in California in the US. They were introduced to the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in the US. The system was implemented after lessons learned during 9/11. “According to the NIMS structure, all government organisations at all levels, as well as emergency agencies, had to standardise terminology and systems,” said Prof Jordaan.

Insight gained during the visit and a work relationship with the United State Forest Services, provided Prof Jordaan and Breytenbach the necessary background to conduct training for incident management teams.

Currently DiMTEC is offering accredited ICS 100, 200 and 300 courses. To qualify as incident command managers, students need to attend the ICS courses together with the practical training. As part of the training they also need to shadow a qualified ICS manager during two real incidents. These courses are taking place in conjunction with the FSUFPA. 

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