Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS) is a management protocol. It is a set of management rules that is common to all emergency service providers.  CIMS is mandated through the Civil Defence Emergency Management act of 2002.


Basic principles in CIMS include:

  • Common terminology - applies to organisational functions, facilities, and resources.
  • Modular organisation - develops from the top down. Thus any given incident is always controlled or commanded by an Incident Controller (IC). In a small operation, the IC can assume all roles. For larger operations, other functional areas under CIMS can be activated as circumstances dictate. CIMS can therefore be scaled to suit incidents of any size. 
  • Integrated communications - a common communications plan, standard operating procedures, clear text.
  • Consolidated Incident Action Plans - describes the response goals, operation objectives and support activities for a given operational period.
  • Designated incident facilities - every incident requires one control point. More facilities can be provided for more complex events.

How does CIMS work?

CIMS works because it imposes standardised management rules across organisations. This means that separate organisations using CIMS will still have similar lines of reporting, and will use similar terminology for roles, functions, and facilities. This structural response allows for the effective integration and coordination of any multi-agency response to an emergency.

How does CIMS affect NMDHB?

The Nelson Marlborough Health uses CIMS in all of its Health Emergency Plan activations and other incidents where coordinated incident management is required. By using the CIMS model the DHB is able to effectively control the incident and outcome rather than the incident controlling the outcome. Nelson Marlborough Health runs CIMS training for Level 4 DHB staff.