Mock emergency ‘learning experience’ for participants - Oct. 30, 2013
After getting the all clear from DNR, NB Power and Brunswick Pipleine crews, members of the Oak Bay Fire Department set out to retrieve an “injured person” during a mock emergency exercise Saturday involving the natural gas pipeline which crosses the Board Road in Oak Bay.
“A learning experience” is how participants described a mock emergency exercise Saturday involving local fire departments and an “explosion” of a natural gas pipeline.
“We’re very happy to see the response on the mock emergency,” said Christian Richard, general manager for Emera New Brunswick, the owner’s representative for the Brunswick Pipeline. He was on site for the entire exercise.
“It’s always good to be ready for an emergency and we’re just very, very happy with the results of the exercise. It was an absolute learning experience.”
His comments were echoed by Oak Bay Fire Chief Jim Brown.
“It went very well,” said Brown. “It was a learning experience and our first big rural learning incident using our incident command and unified command system.”
Richard said his company conducts two similar exercises each year – one rural and one within a city – and depends upon the information gleaned from them to learn. The exercise was part of Brunswick Pipeline’s routine safety procedures designed to enhance preparedness and response times with emergency response partners and to provide an opportunity to test and practice procedures and communications.
“As much as we think we have it perfect, we always find some areas to improve upon,” said Richard.
He said the plan was to debrief with the participants and “identify areas that we could do better and practise again. Practise, practise, practise.”
“I’m very happy to be here today with the Oak Bay Fire Department and first responders here in Charlotte County. We appreciate they are a volunteer organization and professional firefighters as well.”
Saying he was “relatively new” to the Emera organization, Richard said this was the first time he had been part of one of these exercises
“I’ve been very, very impressed so far.”
Brown said the debriefing afterwards identified “some weak points we can now work to improve.”
The exercise also revealed “a few kinks in the system”, said Brown, especially one where participants discovered it could take NB Power anywhere from five to eight hours to de-energize power lines near the “explosion” site feeding power to Maine before it would be safe for first responders to approach the fire scene.
“None of us realized that,” stated Brown.
The emergency scenario involved an explosion that rocked the area on Board Road in Oak Bay where the pipeline crosses. Because the pipeline trail is often used by ATVers, the scenario included a “missing” and possibly injured person who had to be rescued. It was pointed out by Brown during the debriefing that the pipeline crosses three other traffic arteries in the area – St. Davids Ridge Road, Route 3 and Route 127.
Participants in the mock emergency exercise included volunteer firefighters from Moores Mills, Lawrence Station, Rollingdam and Oak Bay as well Brunswick Pipeline crews, NB Power, the NB Emergency Measures Organization, Ambulance NB, the RCMP and the NB Department of Natural Resources.