This training provides an initial orientation to the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS) for individuals who plan to volunteer during an emergency or disaster. The course is designed to help volunteers understand the standardized organizational structure and communication system they are likely to encounter while responding to a crisis. Additionally, this training can serve as a 'just in time' review of these basic principles.
Volunteer organizations may require their volunteers to participate in additional training on these topics. Volunteers will want to consult with their coordinator regarding specific training requirements.


Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the National Incident Management System, or NIMS; 
  • Describe the Incident Command System, or ICS;
  • Demonstrate how the Chain of Command functions in a volunteer role;
  • Explain how the Job Action Sheet assists the volunteer to identify job title, supervisor; and job responsibilities before, during and at the end of a volunteer shift;
  • Describe the volunteer’s role in communicating with a supervisor, other responders, the media and the general public;
  • Discuss the importance of having a personal preparedness plan in place prior to deployment; and
  • Identify potential roles for volunteers within the Incident Command System.


This course contributes to the following:

  • Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities: Emergency Operations Coordination Function 4: Manage and sustain the public health response.
  • Public Health Preparedness and Response Core Competencies:
    • Model Leadership
      • Facilitate collaboration with internal and external emergency response partners.
    • Plan for and Improve Practice
      • Refer matters outside of one's scope of legal authority through the chain of command.
    • Protect Worker Health and Safety
      • Maintain personal/family emergency preparedness plans
      • Employ protective behaviors according to changing conditions, personal limitations and threats
      • Report unresolved threats to physical and mental health through the chain of command


Produced by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Minnesota Department of Health Division of Emergency Preparedness and Response. Subject matter experts: Sue Grafstrom, MPH; Janice Maine, MEP.

This project was supported by a grant to the University of Minnesota, Public Health Crisis Response Cooperative Agreement: Academic Partnership to Enhance Workforce Preparedness from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Grant/Cooperative Agreement Number NU90TP922188. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.

Continuing Education Units

Participants are eligible to receive up to 0.1 CEU or 1.0 (60 minute) contact hour; 1 CPH recertification credit.

Contact & Questions

For questions regarding course registration, materials, and content, please email cpheo@umn.edu.

For questions regarding system access, log-in, user name, or password, please email help@umn.edu or call 612-301-4357.

Enroll Now - Select a section to enroll in
Section Title
NIMS (National Incident Management System) and ICS (Incident Command System): A Primer for Staff and Volunteers
Jan 04, 2024 to Jan 06, 2025
Delivery Options
Self Paced Online  
Course Fee(s)
No Fee $0.00
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