Incident response team
An incident response team or emergency response team (ERT) is a group of people who prepare for and respond to any emergency incident, such as a natural disaster or an interruption of business operations. Incident response teams are common in corporations as well as in public service organizations. This team is generally composed of specific members designated before an incident occurs, although under certain circumstances the team may be an ad hoc group of willing volunteers.
Incident response team members ideally are trained and prepared to fulfill the roles required by the specific situation (for example, to serve as incident commander in the event of a large-scale public emergency). As the size of an incident grows, and as more resources are drawn into the event, the command of the situation may shift through several phases. In a small-scale event, usually only a volunteer or Ad hoc Team may respond. In small but growing, and large events, both specific member and ad hoc teams may work jointly in a unified command system. Individual team members can be trained in various aspects of the response, be it Medical Assistance/First Aid, hazardous materials spills, hostage situations, information systems attacks or disaster relief. Ideally the team has already defined a protocol or set of actions to perform to mitigate the negative effects of the incident.
Examples of incidents
Public contingencies often addressed by incident response teams include:
- Natural disasters (hurricanes, tornados, typhoons, earthquakes, Floods)
- Public health threat such as the outbreak of an epidemic
- Power grid outage or other infrastructure failure
- Travel system interruption such as significant air or rail accidents
- Hazardous material spill
- Food or drug contamination
- Internet or computer attacks
- Terrorist attacks
In the context of a single company or organization, incident response teams also may prepare for:
- A computer incident such as theft or accidental exposure of sensitive customer data
- Exposure of intellectual property or trade secrets
- Accidental or intentional product contamination
- Bomb threats
- Hostage situations
- Any incident which creates significant public relations or legal liability
Specific member teams
Predefined roles are typically filled with individuals who are formally trained and on standby at all times, during scheduled hours. These teams are organized by ranks with a clearly defined chain of command. Examples include:
- SWAT teams
- RCMP Emergency Response Team
- Nuclear power plant emergency response teams
- Various units of Wildland firefighters
Volunteer and ad hoc teams
Ad hoc teams respond to an incident in a similar fashion as do Volunteer FireFighters. Individuals on such a team usually have an unrelated job. Often the first responder on the scene will assume the role of Incident Commander.
Examples of individuals in a manufacturing scenario who might join an ad hoc incident response team include:
Examples from community settings include:
- The Management Incident Response Team, by James Christiansen, CSOonline.com, August 1, 2006.
- Incident Detection, Response and Forensics: The Basics, by Richard Bejtlich, CSOonline, April 2, 2008.
- Carnegie Mellon University Computer Emergency Response Team.
- Disaster Assistance Response Team - DART Department of National Defence
- US National Response Team (NRT)Oil and hazardous materials spills
- Canada’s RCMP Emergency Response Team.RCMP ERT
- Lakehead University Emergency First Response Team
- Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team - O.V.E.R.T
- The Emergency First Response Team at McMaster University 
- The Emergency Response Team Czech Republic,ADZČR ERT