Santa Clara County, California

Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS)
Introductory Course of Instruction

Module M1: Course Overview

M1.2: Purpose and Scope of the SEMS Law

The basic framework of SEMS incorporates the use of the Incident Command System (ICS) (developed under the Fire Fighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies (FIRESCOPE) Program); Multi-agency or inter-agency coordination; the State's master mutual aid agreement and mutual aid program; the operational area concept; and the Operational Area Satellite Information System (OASIS).

SEMS provides for a five level emergency response organization, activated as needed, to provide an effective response to Multi-agency and Multi-jurisdiction emergencies. The five organizational levels in SEMS are:

  1. Field
  2. Local Government
  3. Operational Area
  4. Region
  5. State

The function and relationships of each of these levels is described in Module A2.

The use of SEMS facilitates

SEMS is designed to be flexible and adaptable to the varied emergencies that can occur in California, and to meet the emergency management needs of all responders.

By law, state agencies must use SEMS when responding to emergencies involving multiple jurisdictions or multiple agencies.

Local governments are strongly encouraged to use SEMS and they must use SEMS in order to be eligible for state funding of response related personnel costs. While local governments are not required to take the State Approved Courses of Instruction on SEMS, they will be required to maintain minimum training competencies in SEMS.

SEMS is a management system. It is based on a proven system that has been in use for over twenty years. SEMS provides an organizational framework and guidance for operations at each level of the state's emergency management system. It provides the umbrella under which all response agencies may function in an integrated fashion.

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