The Planning section PREPARES for things A worker in the EOC making a funny face behind a big box labeled Documents

Do you like turning information into intelligence?

Do you LOVE the little things and have great attention to detail?

Do you like to create documents that summarize key information for others to digest?

Do you like to create maps? Even just for fun?!

Are you one of those people who see things through to the end? Like to see things get finished?

Have you ever planned an event, like a birthday party, wedding, family reunion and you discovered that you liked the planning part of it?

Basic Description: Supports strategic and operational decision-making by collecting, analyzing and disseminating information about a potential or actual incident; facilitates crisis action planning; and ensures proper recordkeeping, documentation and safeguarding of critical incident information. Prepares the Incident Action Plan (IAP) and the Situation Report (SitRep), collects and evaluates information, makes maps, maintains resource status (people and critical resources) and documentation. 

The Planning Section Chief (PSC) has a practical operational background, broad

experience, and vision to match strategies to objectives. With the EOC Manager, the PSC anticipates better responses to the changing demands of the incident. Major attributes include:

  • Ability to work under pressure and organize a team to complete complex work assignments that are integral to decision-making; a project manager.  

  • Facilitation skills in order to lead planning cycle, leadership, and other meetings.

  • Investigative skills for the collecting, processing and clarifying of information to depict the situation and guide decisions.

Situation Unit. The Situation Unit Leader (SITL) works for the PSC to identify, develop, and clearly display critical information. Major attributes include:

  • Information processing and written, visual, and verbal presentation skills.

  • Leadership skills to oversee field observers who verify information in the field.

  • Coordination skills needed for working with all sections and external partners to gather, analyze and validate data. 

Resources Unit. The Resource Unit Leader (RESL) works for the PSC to identify and track the people needed to work the incident, as well as other critical resources. Major attributes include:

  • A multi-tasker who can track  the status and location of all requested, activated, and temporarily out of service  incident resources.

  • Leadership skills to oversee check-in recorders or the check-in process at all venues. 

  • Writing skills for documenting and displaying organizational assignments.

Documentation Unit. The Documentation Unit Leader (DOCL) works for the PSC to ensure all incident documentation is collected, compiled, photocopied, and archived. Major attributes include:

  • Great attention to detail and organizational skills combined with people skills to ensure the completion of incident documentation. 

  • Computer and analytical talents to assist in the collecting, organizing, and archiving of all physical and digital documentation related to the incident.

Damage Assessment Unit. The Damage Assessment Unit Leader (DAU) works for the PSC to gather information relating to facilities (public and private) and critical infrastructure. Field Assessors work for the DAU Leader and conduct damage assessments in the field (paper or electronic tools). Major attributes include:

  • Highly analytical and organized in order to collect, sort, and analyze large amounts of data. 

  • Coordination skills for organizing and working with field assessors to assess buildings for damage; receive and process incoming data.

  • Basic GIS mapping application software experience for creating and updating digital maps. 

  • Understanding of risk and liabilities to best utilize data and assist in the prioritization of response resources.

Demobilization Unit. The Demobilization Unit Leader (DMOB) works for the PSC and ensures activated incident resources are demobilized from the incident appropriately. Major attributes include:

  • Coordination skills needed for working with all the sections in order to develop a Demobilization Plan 

  • Some knowledge of all EOC and field positions in order to address individual resource demobilization processes.

  • Strong planning and organizational skills. 

    GIS map at an Eagle Creek Fire (2017) community meeting

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Unit. The GIS Unit works for the PSC and supports real-time field data collection and creates maps and mapping tools to inform decisions and/or for public awareness. 

  • ESRI ArcGIS Desktop and web mapping application (AGOL, Enterprise, etc.) software experience for creating and updating digital maps.

  • Coordination skills needed for working with external partners as well as the Situation Unit to gather, analyze and verify data. 

  • Knowledge of map symbology used for incident response.


Next Steps...

If this or any of the other positions below spark your interest or you’d like to find out more, please fill out our online interest form and a disaster response mentor will make contact with you.

In addition, the following introductory level courses are recommended for all disaster response staff: