National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Medical Unit Leader

MEDL decorative banner: photos depicting MEDL position. MEDL Position Description: The Medical Unit Leader (MEDL) is primarily responsible for developing the Medical Plan, obtaining medical aid and transportation for injured or ill incident personnel, and preparing reports and records. The Medical Unit may also assist Operations in supplying medical care and assistance to civilian casualties at the incident.

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MEDL Incident Position Description

The Medical Unit Leader (MEDL) is responsible for ensuring occupational health of all incident personnel, including planning for and coordinating incident emergency response. Incident emergency response often involves MEDL coordination of patient evacuations/extractions from remote areas requiring good knowledge of available resources and their capability. The MEDL reports to the Logistics Section Chief (LSC) or the Safety Officer (SOF) and works in the Logistics functional area.

**A MEDL must maintain a minimum of State Licensure as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Federal Employees who are licensed as an EMT within a Federal Credentialing Process may also serve as a MEDL if authorized by the appropriate Federal Medical Director.
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Leadership Level 3, Leader of People (Develop Intent)

  • For additional information review Level 3 description, expected behaviors and knowledge, suggested development goals, and self-study opportunities.

Prepare and Mobilize

  • Ensure individual readiness.
  • Obtain and assemble information and materials needed to manage the medical unit.
  • Gather critical state, regional and local Emergency Medical System (EMS) resource information, regulations, and response capabilities.
  • Travel to and check in at assignment.
  • Obtain briefing, objectives, and intent from the incident supervisor.

Build the Team

  • Order emergency response personnel with necessary capabilities and equipment consistent with the current and projected scale of the incident.
  • Validate licensure, qualification, and readiness of assigned personnel and equipment.
  • Establish partnerships with local and regional EMS, hospitals, health clinics, search, and rescue teams, fire departments, and public health.
  • Coordinate with Logistics Section Chief (LSC) and other functional areas to obtain resources.

Supervise and Direct Work Assignments

  • Make daily division assignments for medical unit staff and provide supervision for personnel and other medical resources.
  • Brief and update all staff on incident-wide and Medical Plan (ICS 206 WF) changes, incident assignments, and evolving resources.
  • Ensure medical unit staff adhere to proper timekeeping, work-rest ratio, and other applicable guidance defined in the NWCG Standards for Interagency Incident Business Management, PMS 902.
  • Provide leadership on incident medical resource decision making.

Perform Medical Unit Leader-Specific Duties

  • Manage Medical Unit aid station(s).
    • Establish medical unit aid station(s) at Incident Command Post (ICP) and in spike camps as necessary to support occupational health of incident personnel.
    • Order, monitor, and maintain supplies and personnel necessary to meet the complexity of the incident while anticipating and providing for any special needs (personnel, supplies, equipment).
    • Maintain security for the medical unit.
    • Provide for biohazard handling and disposal procedures.
    • Evaluate unit’s ability to perform patient assessments and care and monitor trends in illness for any potential communicable disease outbreak.
    • Audit use of “over-the-counter” medications made available in the medical unit to monitor trends and usage.
  • Develop and maintain Medical Plan (ICS 206 WF).
    • Develop the ICS 206 WF to establish effective medical unit procedures for major medical emergencies, non-emergency transport, and patient return from medical facility.
    • Determine EMS staffing, rescue, and extraction procedures based on evolving incident complexity and operational need.
  • Maintain Twenty-Four Hour Emergency Response Readiness
    • Maintain 24-hour on-call readiness to coordinate Incident Within an Incident (IWI) emergency response.
    • Plan for and evaluate information and risk on any emergency and coordinate EMS resources to efficiently provide care for, extricate, and transport patient(s) to definitive care in remote, austere settings with limited communication.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Coordinate with state or regional EMS authorities for limited recognition of resources to ensure proper EMS laws and regulations are followed.
  • Coordinate with the Facilities Unit Leader (FACL) to provide and maintain utilities, space, and facilities.
  • Coordinate with Safety and Operations functional areas to communicate significant limitations to response capacity and/or emerging health trends.
  • Establish contact with local and regional medical facilities (i.e., trauma center, hospitals and clinics) to communicate the likelihood of increased patient volume during an incident.
  • Coordinate with local and regional EMS providers to plan and arrange for appropriate medical ground transport (basic life support or advanced life support). 
  • Establish and maintain positive internal and external interpersonal working relationships.
  • Coordinate with Compensation/Claims Unit Leader (COMP) for patients with injuries or illness requiring care outside the medical unit aid station.
  • Consult with public health officials on response to medical emergencies that have the potential for significant number of patients such as an outbreak of a communicable disease.
  • Coordinate with the Communications Unit Leader (COML) and Radio Operators (RADO) regarding IWI procedures.

Manage Risk

  • Account for and monitor health, safety, and welfare of assigned personnel.
  • Anticipate staffing needs and ensure an appropriate level of medical support providers are available and staged as needed throughout the incident.
  • Assure adequate personnel and equipment resources are available for emergency medical evacuation of personnel from remote areas.
  • Ensure update of the Medical Plan (ICS 206 WF) and medical responders are familiar with communication procedures and transportation plan.


  • Complete, authorize, ensure timeliness of, and route as required: 
  • Maintain all required incident documentation generated through operation of the incident medical unit.
  • Properly dispose of any Personally Identifiable Information (PII)/Protected Health Information (PHI) at the end of the incident.


  • Anticipate demobilization, identify excess resources, and coordinate with your incident supervisor to prepare the demobilization schedule. Brief assigned resources on demobilization procedures and responsibilities.
  • Participate in a transition briefing to any incoming Incident Management Team (IMT) and include documentation.
  • Coordinate an efficient transfer of MEDL duties and outline any issues or unresolved items.




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