The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Contingency Planners (ACP) hosted its monthly meeting, which featured presentations on Incident Command System integration and children in disasters, on Tuesday, July 8.

The meeting was held virtually, with attendees from throughout the country joining in and listening online.  

The event began with a presentation by William McCarson of McCarson Response Consulting.  McCarson discussed ways business continuity professionals can integrate the Incident Command System (ICS) into their programs.

ICS is a common way of organizing personnel, policies, facilities and procedures in the event of a disaster.  It provides a chain of command to avoid miscommunication during an incident.  ICS is a subsection of the National Incident Management System, released by the United States Department of Homeland Security in 2004.  It was initially created to help firefighters combat large wildfires in California and Arizona before being adopted by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Although the ICS is predominately used by first responders, McCarson said it can be adapted to business continuity programs at most enterprises.  He said ICS helps create common principals and structure for incident action plans.  Because it is a universal system, ICS can also be tailored to fit the needs during each individual crisis.  

Michelle Heckle, Emergency Management Coordinator at Oakland Children’s Hospital and Research Center, spoke about working with children during a disaster.  She said crisis managers must prepare to deal with issues they otherwise wouldn’t have to if adults were involved and focus on keeping children calm and re-uniting them with parents or guardians.  

Heckle also said it was important to train staff how to deal with children specifically.  She offered tips like using simple language, using distractions and getting down to eye level when speaking.

The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter’s next meeting will be held Tuesday, Aug. 12 at Bridge Bank in San Jose.  The featured topic will be cyber security.

For more information about the ACP or any of its individual chapters, visit