How We Prepare
We strive to prevent incidents before they occur. That goal drives our actions and decisions every moment and every day. We also prepare so that if an incident does occur, we are ready to respond quickly, safely and effectively, mobilizing expert and well-equipped crews and collaborating with first response agencies.
Putting our response skills to the test
In 2018, Enbridge staged more than 315 drills, exercises and equipment deployments to hone our emergency preparedness skills and capability. Thousands of our people participated and we worked closely with local, regional and federal first response agencies so that we’re ready to join forces and collaborate effectively when necessary.
Chicago-area exercise builds incident response capacity across Enbridge
You might think that the words “this is a drill” would calm the nerves, but our annual Enbridge Enterprise Emergency Response Team (E3RT) exercise is intended to put our skills to the test, so, drill or not, it’s an intense experience that gets the adrenaline flowing and brings the team’s knowledge and expertise to the fore in a real-world incident simulation.
Enbridge held this year’s E3RT exercise in the Chicago area, with participants responding to a scenario on the Des Plaines River in Will County, IL involving a release of light crude oil from Line 14, which runs from Superior, WI to Mokena, IL.
After months of planning and an initial response workshop on Sept. 26, the full-scale exercise began first thing on the morning of the 27th. A full-scale exercise involves equipment deployment and a fully staffed incident management team operating out of a command post. One hundred and thirty five employees and nearly 100 outside observers and participants tested and assessed Enbridge’s overall response capability during the full-scale exercise, as well as specific activities, such as spill containment and recovery.
Other agencies observing or participating in the exercise included members of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Will County Emergency Management, the City of Joliet and representatives from federal agencies including the U.S. EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
“Exercises like this one test the readiness of our team to quickly converge from across the company,” says Brad Shamla, Enbridge’s vice president of U.S. operations. “It also gives employees and first responders real-world training to work together effectively on an incident response.”
Owen McHugh, Enbridge’s technical manager of emergency management, says the exercise also provided an important opportunity for new members of the Enbridge team who joined the company as part of the merger with Spectra Energy a chance to experience a full-blown E3RT exercise firsthand.
“This was one of Enbridge’s first opportunities to bring together some of the new membership of the E3RT to witness and get involved with one of these exercises,” Owen notes. “Our E3RT exercise in Will County provided an opportunity to have some of the new members of the team participate in and observe the talented and integrated incident management team we’ve built since we first established the E3RT in 2012.”
Owen says thanks to the training and practice involved in the intensive annual events, over the years Enbridge has created a roster of trained experts from all parts of the organization who are ready and able to step in and support an effective response if a major incident occurs.
“Each BU is well structured to handle their incidents, but the E3RT is designed to backstop that,” he says. “We’re building the incident response capacity right across the organization and our E3RT team members are well-trained and well-integrated. We’re getting to the point now, where our team members are ready to ‘plug and play,’ where if they show up for a specific role, they’re ready to go, regardless of the business unit they work in.”
Grand Forks County EMO’s call for volunteers met with overwhelming response
At Enbridge we take a holistic approach to emergency preparedness.
Yes, we run hundreds of drills, exercises and equipment deployments every year—more than 315 in 2018—and we work closely with first responders so that we are ready to deliver an effective integrated response in the event of trouble. But for us preparedness also includes helping build emergency response expertise and capacity in the communities where we live and work.
Case in point is our support—with a $5,000 grant through our Safe Community program—to help train the newly established Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Grand Forks, ND.
Kari Goelz, manager with the Grand Forks County Emergency Management Office, tells of how two interns proposed setting up a CERT team in mid-2018. She gave them the go-ahead, expecting a quiet response to their call for volunteers.
“Of course, I’m sitting back thinking: ‘You’re so cute. OK, go ahead. We’ll get 12 people.’ Well, we had 150 people express interest in the training,” says Goelz. “I was kind of overwhelmed. It’s been fun, but exhausting.” She estimated that by the end of 2018 they would have 60 graduates from the 20-hour training program.
The intensive course provides training in a combination of disaster medical operations, search-and-rescue operations, and logistical support. That includes triaging multiple injuries under simulated disaster conditions, performing head-to-toe patient assessments, setting up treatment areas, and applying safe techniques for debris removal and victim extrication.
“They’re a force multiplier for our professional emergency responders. You can never have enough responders in the early hours of a disaster or serious incident, because they’re pulled in 100 different directions. CERT teams are the help until help arrives,” Goelz says.
“The more people I can train on how to help us out in the early hours of a disaster, the better off we’re going to be.”
In 2018 Enbridge provided more than US$1 million (C$1.3 million) in Safe Community grants to first response organizations and communities across Canada and the U.S. Since we established the program in 2002 we’ve provided US$10.6 million (C$13.3 million) in grants to first responders across North America.
As for the remarkable response after the Grand Forks County EMO’s call for volunteers, Goelz attributes it to community-mindedness and a growing awareness of the importance of emergency preparedness.
“Part of the response we have received is a sign of the times; it’s no secret how many disasters this country has endured over the past few years,” says Goelz. “I think the time is right for them to want to be engaged. A lot of the volunteers told us: ‘I want to give back to my community.’”
Equipment drill introduces Enbridge’s emergency preparedness, response systems to new stakeholders
Emergency preparedness is about more than being ready to respond to a simple incident in a convenient location. It’s about preparing to contend, safely, quickly and effectively, with challenging situations and harsh conditions in remote and difficult places.
That’s why we stage our drills and exercises year-round and pick thorny scenarios to put our skills to the test.
And if you want to talk thorny, literally, look no further than a drill Enbridge response teams ran near Medicine Hat, in southern Alberta, last summer. The South Saskatchewan River Valley there is known as the Badlands, and during the summer months you may encounter bull snakes, prairie rattlers, pincushion cacti and sinkholes, all against a backdrop of extreme heat and challenging terrain.
The exercise provided a chance to test our preparedness in new territory for Enbridge, following the addition of the Express Canada Pipeline to our network in 2017.
“We want to be prepared for anything—that’s why we hold these drills regularly—and the particular setting and conditions are all part of the package,” notes Scott Ritzer, a Sherwood Park, Alberta-based Emergency Response Co-ordinator with Enbridge.
“As part of any exercise, we do an advance site visit and analysis,” adds Ritzer, “and this was really good for our people to carry out in an area they were unfamiliar with, since the Express pipeline is a new asset following the Spectra merger.”
About 50 Enbridge employees and contractors, including teams from across Alberta and Saskatchewan, took part in the drill, using response boats to deploy containment boom, deflector boom and skimmer systems—strengthening our spill control capabilities.
Representatives of regional first response agencies, City of Medicine Hat Water Supply, the National Energy Board and the Metis Nation of Alberta, as well as a local Member of the Alberta’s Legislative Assembly, watched Enbridge’s water response activities, quizzed Enbridge response specialists, toured work locations, and were invited to board a response boat for a closer look.
“We had a lot of really good questions, and most of them were directed toward working with those response agencies in the future,” says Ritzer, “as well as preparing together to respond in the event of a pipeline incident.”
“This was a good opportunity to showcase our program for these stakeholders who are new to us along the Express line,” says Ritzer. “There seems to be a lot of interest in planning and executing these drills together—which is a huge win for safety.”
Safety grant helps St. Louis County Volunteer Rescue Squad modernize its rescue gear
Rick Slatten and his team only break out their rope rescue equipment a handful of times each year.
But when they do, the intensity is invariably high—and so are the stakes.
“We had a dramatic rescue in the Boundary Waters a couple of years ago. A canoe capsized in some whitewater, and because of the hydraulics of the water, the canoe was pressing a teenager into a rock and drowning him,” recalls Slatten, the captain of the St. Louis County Volunteer Rescue Squad, based in Duluth, Minnesota.
“The Scoutmaster held the boy’s head above water for two hours; he was hypothermic himself,” adds Slatten. “For the rescue to happen, we had to fight the hydraulics—so we built a five-to-one hauling system with our rope gear to pull that canoe away from the rock, and get him out of there.
“So when we use our rope gear, it might be that quintessential high-level vertical realm, which we train intensely on . . . but it might also be steep-angle rescue or a horizontal scenario. It’s extremely versatile equipment.” The 60 members of the squad support other first response organizations in northeast Minnesota, responding to hundreds of calls and volunteering thousands of hours of their time each year.
When the squad recently went through an advanced rope rescue course in Arizona, under the tutelage of climbing guru Reed Thorne, they recognized the urgent need to update their equipment.
As part of Enbridge’s ongoing investment in Minnesota through our proposed Line 3 Replacement Project, the company made a $10,000 Safe Community grant to the squad to support the purchase of new ropes, pulleys, harnesses, carabiners, and AZTEK rigging systems.
Slatten says the donation has made a huge difference for the squad.
“Our equipment was old and cumbersome. It was big and heavy. Sometimes we’d be carrying 60, 70 pounds of hardware into the woods for a rescue,” says Slatten. “We jumped ahead 30 years with that one check from Enbridge—we’ve gone from Model ‘T’ Fords to rockets.”
Prepare by the numbers
Enbridge has trained thousands of its employees to respond safely and effectively in the event of an incident, including more than 2,700 members of our team who have been provided with in-depth, hands-on training in the Incident Command System.
329 & 101
In 2018 our two natural gas utilities, Enbridge Gas Distribution and Union Gas, trained 329 firefighters and visited 101 fire stations as part of the company’s first responder natural gas awareness program. Going forward, the combined utility will focus on a train-the-trainer approach in conjunction with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs. Enbridge piloted this approach in December 2018, taking 21 Fire Department Training Officers through a train-the-trainer session at the Enbridge Technology and Operations Centre.
Since launching our free, online Emergency Responder Education Program (EREP) in 2012, about 3,200 first responders, emergency officials, Enbridge employees and other interested parties who may be involved in first response across the U.S. and Canada have completed the training.