HKS Authors

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For more than a decade, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) has served in the United States as the mandated framework for coordinated organization, operational command, and implementation of response to emergencies nationwide. This article examines whether surface transportation agencies are developing the capabilities necessary to fit effectively into NIMS. It reviews the literature on NIMS, focusing on its implementation in “second and third circle responder” professions, including transportation, rather than in traditional first responder fields such as police, fire, EMS, and emergency management. The article also reports on exploratory interviews with city, metro, state, and federal transportation officials about the extent of NIMS implementation and the factors that facilitate or impede its use. Finally, we present a consolidated conceptual model of factors influencing NIMS implementation and make recommendations about how to enhance NIMS use in the transportation sector.


Hambridge, Nicholas B., Arnold M. Howitt, and David W. Giles. "Coordination in Crises: Implementation of the National Incident Management System by Surface Transportation Agencies." Homeland Security Affairs XIV (April 2017).