Although natural disasters and other emergencies are unpredictable and often beyond control, what can be controlled is the response to these situations.
hat’s the mission of PG&E’s Gas Emergency Preparedness department, which plays a critical role in protecting public safety. This includes ensuring that PG&E Gas Operations employees, first responders and the general public have the education and resources needed to safely respond in the event of a natural gas emergency.
The team has created some innovative, award-winning tools and resources to assist with these, said Joel Dickson, director of PG&E’s Gas Emergency Preparedness department.
Here’s a look at some of those tools and resources:
Gas Safety 101 video series
Gas Safety 101 is a series of short videos aimed at providing gas safety tips for our customers in an engaging and easy to understand format. The series touches on items such as pipeline safety, carbon monoxide safety and gas appliance safety.
The Gas Safety 101 videos can be watched on PG&E’s YouTube channel.
The video series recently took home three awards that honor excellence in interactive media worldwide: a Summit Creative Award, a Horizon Award and a Communicator Award of Distinction.
“These videos are a great way for our customers to learn about gas safety, from carbon monoxide dangers to calling 811 before any digging project,” said Roland Trevino, vice president of Public Strategy and Asset Integrity.
First Responders online portal
The Gas Emergency Preparedness group regularly partners with first responders to determine what information is most critical in protecting the public when natural gas emergencies occur.
he result of this partnership is PG&E’s first responder portal that provides real-time access to information on transmission lines, gas storage facilities, shut-off valves and downloadable system maps. (First responders have password-protected access to the site.)
The team also hosts hundreds of live workshops and conducts emergency simulations for internal and external first responders throughout the service territory throughout the year.
Emergency on-call teams
May 2013 marked the one-year anniversary of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on-call teams. The five EOC on-call teams have been assembled to provide expert support in the event of a natural gas emergency. Each team consists of 22 Gas Operations employees — hand-picked by senior Gas Operations leadership for their expertise — and one incident commander.
In the event of a major natural gas emergency, such as an earthquake, the EOC on-call teams are deployed to support the incident by coordinating all PG&E resources between regions, providing overall response and restoration objectives, and providing necessary communication.
“In the event of an emergency involving gas, it is important to have a team of well trained, experienced personnel in place and ready to respond,” said Trevino, who also serves as an incident commander for one of the on-call teams. “The Emergency Preparedness team has done a remarkable job of building this capability in a year’s time.”
An app for real-time information
During an emergency, employees in the field need to be able to access and share important information in a moment’s notice. That’s why the team created the Emergency Preparedness Mobile Application (EPMA), which can be accessed via Apple devices and is coming soon for devices using Android and other operating systems.
The EPMA allows employees to reference the Gas Emergency Response Plan and other training aids when they are out in the field. It also allows them to complete the required forms and send pictures directly from their device. “The mobile application provides our team immediate access to necessary items in the field which can save precious moments in an emergency,” said PG&E’s Chris Schwartz who created the app along with Andrew Vaccarezza.
The new app is being tested by team members. Eventually, it will be released to first responder contractors and other external partners — allowing them to access key contacts and reference training materials.
“This team was created to make a difference in the company’s journey to rebuild trust and confidence with our customers. We are well on our way to accomplishing that goal,” said Dickson.
PG&E’s www.pge.com/gas website offers information about safety and PG&E’s efforts to improve its gas operations.