ICS-213 General Information

The most common form that you will see from agencies following the NIMS standards is the ICS-213 general message form.  It comes as a three part no carbon required (NCR) form and also as a Word or PDF document that can be printed.  You might be handed it as a hand written document, as a typed document, or on a "memory stick" with a request to send it.

With the extensive Winlink system in Williamson County and in Texas in general, you have ready access to email over radio that can send messages in many forms.  As a communicator, our job is to work with the served agency to give them the service they require.

That means that you can ask questions and suggest alternatives that they may not know exist, but it is not proper to argue with them or tell them we have a better way.

As a communications specialist, your job is to get the essential message through.  It is also to understand the capabilities of your resources. One of the limitations we face, especially in this day of high speed wide bandwidth Internet systems is that our email over radio process runs at a much slower speed with significant limitations on what we can send.  One of your tasks is to determine what the least bandwidth intensive mode your customer, the served agency, will accept.

The simplest and smallest form would be to simply put the ICS-213 message into plain text form in an email.  Just make sure that the person sending the message is OK with that.

The next smallest form is going to be the use of the Rich Text Format (or RTF) ICS-213.  You can get a copy of that here. It is essential that this form be edited ONLY with Microsoft WordPad (on a Windows machine; I don't know about Macs).  Notepad won't handle the formating, and Word will cause the file size to explode.  The empty form is about 3K and fully filled out with text it is still generally less than 4K.

The next largest size involves a bit of document manipulation.  Make sure your customer is aware of this and is OK with how you will create a signed document.  You will type the information into RTF ICS-213 ad above and then insert their scanned signature.  There are detailed instructions on how to do this here.  Create a PDF from this document as the smallest size you can get for a signed ICS-213.

If that doesn't work, the last method is to scan the signed document using low resolution (<100 dpi), black and white, PDF files.

Relative sizes of these methods are:

Plain email - 1K or less

Text only RTF - 4K

Inserted scanned signature RTF - 15K

Scanned RTF - 75K

The reason for the multiple choices is to first make sure we can satisfy the customer's needs, but secondly to do so using the minimum possible file size.