Emergency Support Functions & The Incident Command System

J. Kyle Bryant, Superfund/Response Support Corps, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has as it's mission to "Protect Human Health and the Environment". During a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, flood, or earthquake, the EPA's Emergency Response mechanism is activated to offer support.

One of the ways EPA supports these incidents is through their Response Support Corps (RSC). The RSC consists of EPA Staff that volunteer to support emergency responses and disaster recovery events. These employees are trained in their area of specialty - many times, in capacities different from their daily jobs. They must maintain Field Readiness standards in order to be deployable.

This presentation provides an introduction to the Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) of the Federal government for RSC Members and how they fit within the Incident Command System.

Individuals with expertise/responsibilities in the following areas have helped create the case study:
  • Federal Agencies
  • State Emergency Management Agencies
  • Local Government Officials

Key teaching points:
  1. The Federal Government has a coordinated system for addressing natural disasters and incidents of national significance.
  2. Depending on the nature of the disaster/incident, specific agencies are mandated to manage the response.
  3. Due to the infrequency of catastrophic events, Federal agencies have many employees that volunteer for deployment when the need arises. These employees need to maintain Field Readiness training standards in order to serve the agency's mission during a crisis.

How this example is used in the classroom:
This resource is used to teach the U.S. EPA's Response Support Corps (RSC) Members about the Federal government's Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) during natural disasters and incidents of national significance. This helps RSC Members understand the role they may play in a, much bigger and coordinated, Incident Command System.


National Incident Management System (NIMS)
National Approach to Response (NAR)
Incident Command System (ICS) Training Courses
FEMA ICS Courses 100, 200, 700, 800

Supporting Files

Emergency Support Functions & The Incident Command System (PowerPoint 56.9MB Apr11 14)