‘Stay in your lane’: ICS School 2017 strengthens Enbridge’s emergency response prowess

Incident Command System (ICS) seminar in Texas emphasizes teamwork and process

A proper incident response needs a focus on the process, as well as the result.

In other words? Keep both hands on that steering wheel.

Last week, in Fort Worth, Texas, about 150 members of the Enbridge team took part in a five-day training seminar called ICS School 2017—and gained a greater appreciation of the Incident Command System (ICS), a standardized emergency response system used across North America by military, first response agencies and government.

“One of the greatest takeaways for me was the advice to ‘stay in your lane’ as you move through the incident,” says Cheryl Harvey, an Enbridge community engagement advisor based in Pontiac, Illinois. “Being from Tennessee, I have seen a lot of NASCAR races, and I have a pretty good appreciation for what can happen when a speeding stock car crosses into another car’s path.

“It’s no different with the ICS process. The very nature of emergencies lends itself to speed and chaos,” she adds. “It’s important to stay in your lane—and perform the role assigned to you—so that issues don’t get tangled and efforts aren’t duplicated.”

ICS School 2017 included two days of role-specific ICS courses, and three days’ worth of managing a simulated large-scale incident—in this case, a release of natural gas liquids (NGLs) into a water body.

The week-long training, with participants from across North America, was intended primarily for:

  • Enbridge’s regional incident management team members;
  • Employees and contractors who would respond to and support a pipeline incident; and
  • Members of the Enbridge Enterprise Emergency Response Team (E3RT).

Established in early 2012, E3RT is a company-wide team of Enbridge employees who are trained to manage emergencies using ICS. That common, across-the-board understanding of ICS, and implementation with other response partners, helps in making our emergency response safer, more efficient, and more effective.

“We hope that everyone came away with an appreciation of how each piece of the ICS team works,” says Stephen Rains, the event organizer and an Enbridge operations coordinator in Longview, TX.

“The intention is to focus on the process, rather than the scenario,” says Rains. “Each group within the ICS structure has a very specific and important role. They need to work together in order to safely and efficiently respond to a real-life event.”

While Enbridge focuses primarily on prevention, emergency response and preparedness are an important element of our comprehensive pipeline safety program.

In the four-year span from 2012 through 2015, we held an average of 397 exercises, drills and equipment deployments per year. And for the period from 2012 through to 2017, Enbridge will have invested and deployed more than $57 million in new response equipment, from boom to boats to skimmer systems, across our North American operations.

”I gained a serious appreciation for the extraordinary value Enbridge places on the safety and protection of people, communities and the environment, in the event of an emergency,” says Harvey.

“It’s important for our neighbors to know that we live our values with a deep and genuine commitment—and not just pay them lip service.”