An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

My Coast Guard
Commentary | July 13, 2023

Got “_PQ”? CG-OEM updates to ICS program make qualification easier than ever

By Captain Timothy Balunis and Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Cariddi, Coast Guard Office of Emergency Management and Disaster Response

The early hurricane season is an urgent reminder of the need for robust crisis leadership. The Incident Command System (ICS), a management concept that allows for unhindered emergency management during crisis situations, stands at the center of Coast Guard responses not only in early summer but throughout the year. Heeding the Commandant’s call to build the Coast Guard’s capacity to lead in crisis and enable more efficient surge staffing to meet contingency demands, the Office of Emergency Management and Disaster Response (CG-OEM) is transforming all things ICS.  

Are you interested in joining the effort and becoming qualified or gaining Type 1/2 certifications? CG-OEM’s recent efforts to bolster crisis leadership have made it easier than ever. Recent boosts to ICS training include the first revision of the Incident Management Handbook and Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS) in 10 years and an update to all ICS forms and job aids to ensure emergency managers have your current-to-date resources. Most notably, the office has launched the Pursuing Qualification (_PQ) competency to expedite ICS qualifications. 

How do I get started with ICS qualifications? 

Prior to beginning ICS PQS, members should review the ICS Training Job Aid. While the position-specific PQS will detail the training, tasks, and requirements for a given ICS position, the corresponding job aid will walk members through the process. 

The ICS program certification is a progressive qualification that can be initially accelerated by the new _PQ competency. Applicants should expect to progress from a Type 3 qualification to a Type 2 certification, and then to Type 1. This framework ensures training and experience requirements are met and successfully build upon each preceding qualification/certification.  

How could _PQ help me? 

The _PQ competency is a recent innovation that can accelerate members’ ICS qualifications. As members seek a new Type 3 qualification, they should work with their unit ICS coordinator and training officer to add the _PQ Direct Access code designation to their record. Adding this competency will assist members in receiving required training and allow them to deploy for desired ICS positions even if not fully qualified. This change ultimately broadens the pool of available personnel to deploy, increasing surge staffing bench strength and ultimately boosting Incident Management Team readiness.   

How do I reach that next level with ICS Type 1 and 2 certifications? 

Type 1 and 2 ICS certifications transcend the Coast Guard’s internal competency management system. These certifications have been promulgated globally by industry organizations and stakeholders, so recipients become internationally recognized response professionals. Once members have achieved ICS Type 3 qualifications, they can apply for higher level certification. Type 1 and 2 certifications are recommended by the Coast Guard ICS Competency Review Board, which evaluates Coast Guard applicants who have demonstrated ICS expertise and proficiency at the highest levels for certification. Upon the Board’s conclusion, all applications and board proceeding recommendations are passed to CG-5RI for final determination.  

The ICS _PQ competency and Type 1/2 certifications are crucial elements of Coast Guard responders’ professional growth. With CG-OEM’s improvements to the qualification and certification process, it has never been easier to continue the service’s legacy for crisis leadership. 


ICS Program Coordinator CG SharePoint  

CGEMC SharePoint page 

CG-OEM on Facebook