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Oil Spill Response Planning, Drones, and Spill Surveillance

Posted on Thu, Sep 04, 2014

Oil spill response planning and preparedness are necessary to satisfy applicable regulatory requirements, protect the environment, and ensure safety for responders and employees. Yet, all plans related to oil spills have one common thread: minimize the impacts!

Effective oil spill response plans can minimize the impacts associated with an oil spill. The objectives of these plans, regardless of type of facility, are to:

  • Allow response personnel to prepare for and safely respond to spills
  • Ensure an effective and efficient response that takes geographical challenges into account
  • Outline spill response procedures and techniques at specific locations
  • Improve regulatory compliance efforts
  • Identify potential equipment, manpower, and other resources necessary to implement a spill response

History has proven that a single oil spill can have significant impacts to the environment and the responsible party. Off-site spill responses and containment efforts present unique challenges compared with spills occurring within the confines of the facility or secondary containment. These migrating spills require a higher level of coordination, communication, and surveillance in an effort to minimize downstream impacts.

It is critical to identify and provide detailed information regarding area socio-economic and natural resources and vulnerabilities that may be damaged if a spill were to occur. This information should guide response personnel to make reasonable, well-informed response actions to protect public health and the environment. Detailed information of downstream vulnerabilities and applicable response procedures should be included in an oil spill or tactical response plan.

Spill surveillance should begin as soon as possible following the discovery of a release to determine the appropriate response tactics. One future option for surveillance is the use of commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or more commonly known as drones. The push for commercial use of drones is gaining momentum as affordable devices are increasing in popularity.  Currently, commercial use of drones are limited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization and require the operator to have certified aircraft and pilots, as well as FAA operating approval.

The FAA is responsible for establishing a plan for “safe integration” of UAS by September 30, 2015. However, some reports have indicated that the integration plan deadline will be delayed due to privacy debates and various industry specific regulations. “The FAA is still developing regulations, policies, and standards that will cover a wide variety of UAS users, and expects to publish a proposed rule for small UAS (under 55 pounds) later this year.”

A few companies have been granted the FAA’s Certificate of Waiver or Authorization for UAS allowing for the limited use of commercial drones. In July 2014, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) joined the likes of ConocoPhillips and BP with limited permission to use drones.

Until regulations, best practice protocols, and authorizations are established for the commercial use of drones, standardize surveillance guidelines and best practices can continue to enable response personnel to assess spill size, movement, and potential impact locations.  These guidelines should be outlined in an oil spill response plan.

Below are guidelines that are routinely included in spill surveillance procedures:

  • Dispatch observers to crossings downstream or down gradient to determine the spill’s maximum reach potential.
  • During surveillance, travel beyond known impacted areas to check for additional oil spill sites.
  • Clearly describe the locations where oil is observed and the areas where no oil has been seen.
  • Educate personnel that clouds, shadows, sediment, floating organic matter, submerged sandbanks, or wind-induced patterns on the water may resemble an oil slick if viewed from a distance.
  • Use surface vessels to confirm the presence of any suspected oil slicks (if safe to do so); consider directing the vessels and photographing the vessels from the air, the latter to show their position and size relative to the slick. It may be difficult to adequately observe oil on the water surface from a boat, dock, or shoreline.
  • Spill surveillance is best accomplished through the use of helicopters or small planes; helicopters are preferred due to their superior visibility and maneuverability.
  • If fixed-wing planes are to be used, high-wing types provide better visibility than low-wing types.
  • All observations should be documented in writing and with photographs and/or videotapes; include the name and phone number of the person making the observations.
  • Describe the approximate dimensions of the oil slick based on available reference points (i.e. vessel, shoreline features, facilities); use the aircraft or vessel to traverse the length and width of the slick while timing each pass; calculate the approximate size and area of the slick by multiplying speed and time.
  • Record aerial observations on detailed maps, such as topographic maps.
  • In the event of reduced visibility, such as dense fog or cloud cover, boats may have to be used to patrol the area and document the location and movements of the spill; however, this method may not be safe if the spill involves a highly flammable product.
  • Surveillance is also required during spill response operations to gauge the effectiveness of response operations; to assist in locating skimmers; and assess the spill's size, movement, and impact.
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Tags: Tactical Response Planning, Crisis Mapping, Emergency Management, Crisis Management, Oil Spill

A Lesson in Emergency Preparedness: Learn from Past Incidents

Posted on Thu, Apr 17, 2014

From every event, whether a planned exercise or an actual emergency, lessons can be learned to improve the outcome of the next response. Emergency managers should not camouflage preparedness, response, or communication failures.  Instead, they should draw from the scenario experience to improve the overall emergency management program.

Immediately after an exercise or incident, it is critical to:

  1. Conduct post incident reviews
  2. Gather conclusions from interviews
  3. Identify necessary changes for program implementation
  4. Apply lessons to targeted area(s)

Actual recovery times can be evaluated and any obstacles that led to perpetuating the response should be mitigated. Emergency managers should incorporate lessons learned into response plans, highlight any additional training measures, and inject new responses procedures into exercise simulations.

The post-incident review is an evaluation of incident response used to identify and correct weaknesses, as well as determine strengths. Timing of a post-incident review is critical. An effective review requires that response and preparedness discussions take place while a disaster fresh in the minds of decision makers, responders, and the public. From this review, lessons learned can be identified and the task of preparedness and response improvement can begin.

The post-incident review process is intended to identify which response procedures, equipment, and techniques were effective or ineffective, and the reason(s) why. The question “How can our emergency response process be improved?” should be asked for each subject under the post-incident critique.

Post-incident reviews should include, but is not limited to:

  1. Name and typical duties of personnel being debriefed
  2. Date, time and whereabouts of employee during incident
  3. Specific actions performed during the incident
  4. Documentation of the positive aspects of the response and areas for improvements
  5. Recovery time and possible mitigation measures for improvement
  6. Potential lessons learned
  7. Necessary program and plan revisions
  8. Condition of equipment used, both prior to and after the incident
  9. Overall post-incident perception

Key areas of consideration that should be analyzed by a review team can include, but not limited to:

Initial Response

  • Was the emergency detected promptly?
  • How was it detected?
  • Could it have been detected earlier? How?
  • Are any instruments or procedures available to consider, which might aid in earlier detection of the incident?


  • Were proper procedures followed in notifying government agencies?
  • Were notifications prompt?
  • Was management notified promptly?
  • Were personnel notified promptly? If so, why, how and who? If not, why not?
  • Were contact numbers up to date?


  • Was the magnitude of the problem assessed correctly at the start?
  • What means were used for this assessment?
  • Are any guides or aids needed to assist emergency evaluation?
  • What sources of information were available on winds, on water currents and other variables?
  • Is our information adequate?

Response Mobilization

  • What steps were taken to mobilize countermeasures to the emergency?
  • What resources were used?
  • Was mobilization prompt? Could the response time improve? How?
  • What about mobilization of labor resources?
  • Was it appropriate to mobilize company resources and was this promptly initiated?
  • What other company resources are available and have they been identified and used adequately?

Response Strategy

  • Was there a Response Plan available for reference?
  • Was it flexible enough to cope with unexpected events?
  • Does the plan include clear understanding of local environmental, political or human sensitivities?
  • What was the initial strategy for response to this emergency?
  • Is this strategy defined in the Response Plan?
  • How did the strategy evolve and change during the emergency and how were these changes implemented?

Response Resources

  • What resources were mobilized?
  • How were they mobilized?
  • How did resource utilization change with time? Why?
  • Were resources used effectively?
  • What changes would have been useful?
  • Do we have adequate knowledge of resource availability?

Command Structure

  • Who was initially in charge of responding to the emergency?
  • How did this change with time? Why?
  • What changes would have been useful?
  • Was there adequate monitoring of the incident?
  • Were communications adequate?
  • Was support from financial services adequate? Prompt?
  • Should financial procedures be developed to handle such incidents?

Upon conclusion of the post-incident interviews, the following lesson learned concepts should be examined, mitigated if possible, and incorporated for an improved emergency management program:

  1. Unidentified potential risk or hazard: A hazard and vulnerability analysis should be performed, and processes and procedures should be developed and added to the plans.
  2. Management gaps and weaknesses: If the post incident reviews revealed weaknesses or gaps in the emergency management organization, the structure and/or roles should be modified and emergency plans revised.
  3. Ineffective policies and procedures: If the policies and procedures fail to address key issues during the incident, policies and procedures would need to be modified to address inadequacies.
  4. Lack of response proficiency: If response was faulty due to deficient training, exercising, or planning, these efforts should be amplified and personnel should be familiarized with these modifications
  5. Planning deviations: If participants successfully diverged from existing processes, procedures, or plans theses areas should be modified to reflect the reality of the performance.

Applying lessons learned to an emergency management program enables the ability to use experiences as a means to improve to better prepare for future emergency scenarios. By analyzing the past, executing enhancements, and reinforcing strengths companies and municipalities will be better prepared to not repeat history.

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Tags: Tactical Response Planning, Crisis Mapping, Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Emergency Response Planning

The Art of Crisis Management - Planning, Preparedness, and Practice

Posted on Thu, Jan 09, 2014

Organizational crises are inherently psychological, social, political, technological, and/or structural phenomena.1 Companies face enormous consequences if a crisis situation or incident negatively impacts brand reputation. During a crisis, communication is often one of the most persistent liabilities, potentially exposing weaknesses in company policy, operations, intentions, and/or financial foundations.  It relays a situation’s defining moments, actions, perceptions, and forecasted intentions. However, communication also holds the key to situational reconciliation and financial resolve, or reputational anguish. 

The act of planning, preparation, and practice of a Crisis Management Plan (CMP) grants companies the ability to effectively respond to defining situational crises.  The ability to diversely communicate information within a context understandable to responders, stakeholder, employees, and the public allows companies to successfully navigate through a crisis, potentially minimizing the effects of the situation.


Companies must have mechanisms in place to counteract potential risks, operational threats and company extinction. There are a multitude of crisis communication and response details, variables, and eventualities that must be planned for and considered. Whether your company is a small regional facility or an extensive international network of operations, designing a comprehensive and effective CMP before a crisis occurs is essential to the continued success of your enterprise.

The CMP should establish a strategic framework with checklists and response criteria that will guide the communications decision-making process to allow for an effective response to a crisis. These checklists should include activation criteria and responses for any situation involving a threat to people, property, the environment, or operations. A mishandled crisis or incident may result in damage to the company's reputation and/or financial well being.

A CMP should:

  • Identify all potential threats to “business as usual” operations. This can range from incidents requiring an emergency response to human resource controversies.
  • Determine what your position or viewpoint will be on potential issues.
  • Take preventive measures to proactively deter negative perceptions. This includes generating effective response procedures and recovery processes for a variety of potential threats.

Consider preparing a plan for responding to all internal and external aspects of the crisis. This may include identifying and communicating with all stakeholders that may be affected by each crisis situation. Maintaining consistency through standardized positions and responsibilities enable clear, effective, and efficient crisis management.


With instant accessibility, information (whether true or false) can become viral within minutes. Because of this potential, companies must be prepared with the proper communication tools, a means for situational awareness, and potential responses to react quickly, yet effectively.  Miscommunication or withholding information can exacerbate the initial crisis and increase negative impacts of the situation. If accurate information cannot be verified, companies should not speculate in their communications. Statements should include anticipated time of communications and method of verification.

It is apparent that with the popularity and accessibility of social media, the role of conventional media is changing. However, John Barr, author of Trainwrecks: How Corporate Reputations Collapse and Managements Try to Rebuild Them said, “At the end of the day, a story told by traditional media – especially the respected media like The Globe and Mail, New York Times and Wall Street Journal – carries more weight than social media”.  The argument of the weight of “traditional media” seems to be evolving. The fast paced world of 24/7 news often leaves the traditional news outlets looking to social networks for information, even referring to posted tweets or Facebook comments.

But despite the media forum, companies’ preparedness efforts should include communications to a variety of recipients. Crisis management often highlights the communication with and amongst the public and potential consumers. However, pertinent information should be shared with multiple stakeholders, including employees, investors, contractors, and suppliers. Companies should shape messages according to each recipient, as specialized information may be required.

It is imperative for the establishment and training of a crisis management team. The team should be prepared to follow the established plan and pertinent guidelines, communicate company positions, and relay ongoing activities related to the incident. Proactive efforts, honesty, empathy, and preparedness will assist in maintaining company viability and reputation.


A well-rehearsed and regularly updated CMP offers the best chance for company viability in the aftermath of a crisis. Since public perception plays an enormous role in the consequences resulting from a crisis, establishing a well trained team with knowledge of predetermined processes and assigned responsibilities will allow a company the means to respond to the situation, and control assumptions and rumors. 

Social media, both incoming and outgoing, can be targeted during a crisis. While these powerful channels can be a source of falsehoods and negative comments, this communication method, if used effectively, can be positive on a global scale. The crisis management team should be trained in social media, with an understanding of how to reach targeted audiences and acceptable content of statements.

A variety of crisis management exercises should conducted as part of response training. If the CMP is activated in an exercise or in an actual event, the results should be reviewed to determine if adjustments are necessary.  CMPs need to be continually reviewed, tested, and revised so that they are applicable to current risks and threats. However, no matter how well designed a CMP might be, personnel must be trained to effectively enact appropriate responses.

1. Academy of Management Review: Reframing Crisis Management, Christine M. Pearson and Judith A. Clair, 23(1) (1998): 59–76.

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Tags: Crisis Mapping, Resiliency, Response Plans, Crisis Management, Emergency Management Program, Communication Plan, Social Media

Emergency Management Planning and Social Media

Posted on Mon, Jul 15, 2013

Emergency management in a mobile communications world requires a basic understanding of social media and the potential positive and negative implications it can have on a company. Response preparedness and these collaborative communications applications are merging to create a new outlet within emergency management. This synergy has already proven to be critical components of preparedness, response, and recovery

The accelerated development of mapping tools, ease of information sharing, and limitless public awareness through social media raises concern for emergency managers regarding liability, standards of operations, and integration of these tools into an efficient crisis management program. Companies should develop standard procedures for sharing corporate information and analyzing public comments regarding the company.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) utilizes social media as a means of communication to provide information to the public before, during, and after a disaster. The lines of communication are rapidly expanding, allowing average citizens to provide useful information used to initiate the response, provide feedback on response measures, and share insights regarding the recovery efforts.

To properly determine the severity of an emergency situation and appropriate level of response, information has to be gathered, organized, and confirmed. One of the greatest challenges with social media is assessing the accuracy and validity of the information. However, a case can also be made for the positive aspects of social media.  FEMA’s 2013 National Preparedness report stated that during and immediately following Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy, “users sent more than 20 million Sandy-related Twitter posts, or “tweets,” despite the loss of cell phone service during the peak of the storm.”  The report highlighted an example of how social media provided solutions in the midst of a crisis situation.

“Students at Franklin High School in New Brunswick, NJ used an online mapping service to publish information on gas stations in the area, noting whether they were open, had power, had available fuel, and/or served as charging stations. Students gathered information from personal observations, direct contact with gas stations, media reports, and updates from social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. The students created a map outlining the status of fuel resources in the community. The information then fed directly into an open, online crisis response platform, allowing thousands of people to access the information. This updated information reduced wait times for drivers seeking to refuel and helped government and commercial partners to direct power and fuel resources to the most affected areas.”

Incident Commanders can utilize social media to gain an understanding of a situation in a timely manner. This information can range from high-level observations, to location-specific incident details. Companies should develop processes for monitoring social media during an incident in order to collect accurate, real-time intelligence, as well as to obtain a basic consensus of public opinion. The following concepts can be used to evaluate social media information and formulate an appropriate response.

Initial Information:
Confirm the source
What specific event occurred?
Where and when did this occur?
Were there any injuries or fatalities?
Where were these victims injured?
Was there a rescue? By whom?
Is the information widespread, or limited to a few individuals/locations?
Do we know why it happened? (Rely on facts. Restrict opinions and assumptions, yet be aware of rumors)
Who is, or can become, affected?
Should the employees/public be taking immediate action?
What is public opinion?  

Initial Response Actions
What is being done to control the situation?
Has the crisis management team been activated?
Have all the proper authorities been notified including emergency responders and regulatory authorities?
What actions have those authorities taken or plan to take?
Can the incident escalate? How?
If necessary, has the area been properly secured?
Are there any continuing dangers to human health?
Are evacuations necessary?
How can the company take a proactive stance?
What is the public interest level (media and community)?
Is any media on-site? Is a designated company spokesperson available to manage the media?
What methods can be used to inform the community, employees, and public regarding response developments?

Facility Impact
What operations were initially impacted?
How long will the facility be impacted?
What is the function of the facility and the specific equipment involved?
What caused the event?
Were the operations impacted and for how long?
What stakeholders/clients could be affected by this event?
What is the cost of this event?
What is the potential lost revenue?
What is the potential clean-up cost including environmental remediation?

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Tags: Crisis Mapping, Emergency Management, Incident Management, Emergency Management Program, Social Media, Notification Systems

The Critical Response Time of Crisis Management Planning

Posted on Mon, Jul 01, 2013

In crisis management, response time is critical. It takes years to build a solid corporate reputation, but only hours to dismantle it. Despite mitigation efforts, companies can encounter environmental, man-made, or technology-related threats at any given time. The faster an effective response can be initiated, the less chance of an incident escalating, adversely impacting the facility, employees, the environment, and overall company reputation.

Corporate crises come in a variety of forms, ranging from a minor social media glitch to mass casualty situations. Crisis resolution requires informative communication and actionable procedures. In order to act quickly, companies need to prepare a crisis management plan with flexible, yet pre-identified responses and actions. Proactive crisis communications and responses will vary depending on the nature of the situation, the location, and the time of occurrence.

Regardless of the circumstances, every crisis has the potential to negatively impact the company’s short and long-term reputation, daily operations, and financial performance. A properly implemented crisis management plan can result in:

  • Crisis resolution
  • Continuation of business as usual
  • A preserved, or possibly, an enhanced corporate reputation
  • Financial sustainability

Therefore, it is critical that a basic crisis management framework, response measures, and communication strategies be in place and exercised before a crisis actually occurs. Most successful responses result from a prepared strategy, with a cooperative understanding of response roles and responsibilities. Since each crisis is unique and comes with varying degrees of impact, each crisis must be evaluated and resolved individually based on:

  • The potential impact to employees and the company.
  • Stakeholders interested in the outcome of the incident.
  • The level of control the company has over the situation.
  • Complexity of the crisis and specialists required.

The following crisis management levels can serve as a guide to determine the degree of impact and subsequent required response(s).

Level 1:

  1. Minimal threat to life, property, or the environment:
  2. No medical treatment beyond basic first aid
  3. No risk to the public
  4. Site-level incident limited to the immediate work area.
  5. Minimal estimated property damage to company facilities or equipment
  6. No actual or potential media/ public attention or interest
  7. Regulatory notification is not required
  8. Minimal impact to daily company operations

Level 2:

  1. Limited damage to company property, but has a slight potential for offsite migration
  2. Employee, contractor, or third party injury or illness requiring professional medical treatment
  3. Limited gas release or minor chemical/hazardous spill requiring regulatory reporting
  4. Moderate estimated property loss or financial damage due to fines, penalties or remediation
  5. Notification or employee interaction with appropriate state and/or federal agencies
  6. A security threat that presents a potential risk to the company or the public
  7. An environmental, health or safety issue that could result in a significant adverse impact to the company’s reputation
  8. An event that may impact company operations

Level 3:

  1. A major event that presents extreme danger to life, property, and/or the environment
  2. Any fatality, injury, or illness to a member of the public
  3. Any fatality, injury, or illness to a company employee or contractor
  4. The event cannot be mitigated without the support of local government resources
  5. A fire, pipeline rupture, or explosion involving company facilities
  6. A chemical/hazardous spill that has the potential to migrate off-site
  7. An event that causes significant disruption or a shutdown of operations
  8. Significantly disrupts scheduled customer deliveries
  9. Significant property or financial loss

While the specific circumstances will define a crisis response strategy, basic communications processes typically remain consistent. If the crisis warrants, the pre-identified crisis management team would be responsible for developing media strategy, public statements, and key messages, as well as identifying and briefing one or more spokespersons to deliver the pre-approved messages to media outlets. A specific individual or individuals should be assigned to media/public relations to ensure messaging consistency and information availability.

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Crisis Mapping, Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, Emergency Management Program

Inner-City Emergency Response Planning

Posted on Thu, Jan 10, 2013

Guest Blog contributed by Terry Strahan

There has been a number of emergency response situations located within major metropolitan areas in the past couple of years.  These urban events pose unique issues that are not common within typical emergency response scenarios. Traffic, storm sewers, complex drainage systems, unexpected release points, and the general public create additional obstacles for responders to navigate. There has been an outcry from local officials and the public for pipeline operators to be more aggressive in their approach to planning and responding to these types of inner-city scenarios. There have also been requests for pipeline operators to be more transparent in their response strategies. How pipeline operators are addressing these issues is a topic for discussion within many cities of all sizes in the United States.

Pipeline Operators go to great lengths in the emergency-planning phase to determine potential spill paths and impacts zones. But when it comes to inner-city responses, vital information that could have a major influence on how the emergency response is handled is not always shared. Storm sewers and drainage systems are typically complex networks of piping that lay beneath every city in America. Once a release of liquids or gas enters one of these systems, responders have no way of tracking its progress or determining an effective strategy for blocking the movement or distribution throughout the  system. As seen in the Salt Lake City incident in 2010, spilled product found its way into a city park in the middle of downtown. While spill modeling identified flow paths into Salt Lake City, not having maps of the underground storm sewer system prevented responders from having an effective spill response strategy. Operators and local officials need to work together with a common goal of determining how best to address this complex web of issues.

  • Operators should reach out to city and county officials to provide access to storm sewers and drainage system, for use in developing spill response plans
  • First Responders should team up with pipeline operators to participate in desktop scenarios and simulated spill response exercises in order to coordinate response efforts
  • Resource Pre-Planning should identify locations to best stage equipment for a more effective response
  • Identify Oil Spill Response Organizations (OSROs) ahead of time to prepare specialized resources and communicate Tactical Plan Overviews needed for proper deployment of these resources.

These are just a few of the action items that could impact the effectiveness of an Inner-City Spill Response. Site-specific considerations should be taken into account.

Federal, State, County and Local governments are weighting in on this topic with varying degrees of interest. While the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the driving force behind how federal laws are being enforced, actions by state and local officials could have a far more reaching effect on how to solve this issue.

Terry Strahan is the GIS Manager – Houston Operations at Morris P. Hebert, Inc. Terry has 20 years’ experience applying GIS technology to solving real-world problems in various fields, including Pipeline GIS Management and Environmental and Emergency Response and Gas, Electric and Landbase Data Management. He can be reach at 713-219-1470 ext. 4419.

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Tags: Pipeline, Crisis Mapping, Crisis Management, Event Preparedness, Disaster Response

Pipeline Companies and the Need for Tactical Response Plans

Posted on Thu, Dec 13, 2012

According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) 2009 Annual Report, the United States had approximately 2.5 million miles of pipelines transporting oil, natural gas, and hazardous liquids. However, pipelines continue to be constructed across the U.S. in efforts to secure higher capacities of oil and gas for a growing number of consumers.

In Nov. 2012, Bluestone Gas Corporation of New York Inc., a subsidiary of DTE Energy, began construction of a 44 mile, 20-inch diameter pipeline. Upon completion, the new segment will connect with current lines to carry natural gas from northern Pennsylvania to East Coast markets. The pipeline will have a capacity of 275 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, roughly enough to provide heat to 3,800 homes for a year.

Pipeline segments, whether new or existing, share common acreage with waterways, residential neighborhoods, businesses, schools, and municipalities. Pipelines are a distinct type of risk, since they typically do not utilize secondary containment. If a spill were to occur, the impact could be devastating on multiple fronts. By creating tactical response plans, pipeline companies can identify and plan for key geographical challenges that may delay responding to and managing a pipeline emergency.

The primary objectives of tactical response plans are to:

  • Allow response personnel to prepare for and safely respond to pipeline spill incidents
  • Pre-identify effective response locations downstream of potential spill sources.
  • Identify potential equipment, manpower, and other resources necessary to implement a spill response
  • Outline response procedures and techniques for specific locations
  • Improve regulatory compliance efforts
  • Minimize impact

If a pipeline release could impact waterways, pre planning by developing tactical response plans can lessen spill implications. Determining probable spill flow direction and flow rates from accurate topographical data can serve as a basis for planning. Tactical planning provides site-specific focus to emergency response plans, and applies a response perspective with specific, short-term actions, and provides details that allow responders to best access, assess, and quickly respond to pipeline spills. The identification of critical downstream response locations, necessary equipment suited for the site geography, and other site-specific details can significantly reduce response time with a rapid execution of appropriate response measures.

Tactical spill plans should include, but are not limited to:

  • Various photographs of each segment (including ground and aerial views, if possible)
  • Maps
  • Latitude and Longitude
  • Land/property owner information
  • Driving directions to the site from main roads
  • Description of potential staging area(s)
  • Specific response tactics for the site location
  • Description of site and applicable waterways
  • Site access specifications
  • Necessary security requirements
  • Waterway flow rates and composition
  • Any critical response information that may be informative to responders
  • Recommended equipment and personnel to implement response strategy
  • Other site specific pertinent issues that may hinder a response

Tactical plans are an effective collaborative response tool for companies to share with contracted response groups and local authorities. The planning process should involve detailed site examination and an understanding of the characteristics of the pipeline contents.  When tactical plans are coupled with Geographic Information System (GIS) data, response teams have an invaluable tool for an effective spill response. However, as with all response plans, tactical plans should be periodically reviewed for accuracy, and selectively exercised to test effectiveness.

For an understanding of the necessary elements in creating an effective fire pre plan, download our Fire Pre Planning Guide.

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Tags: Pipeline, Crisis Mapping, Business Risk, Oil Spill, Disaster Response

Incident Action Plans and the ICS Components

Posted on Mon, Oct 29, 2012

The incident action planning process should synchronize site-specific incident response operations and objectives based on the Incident Command System (ICS). The Incident Action Plan (IAP) should include predetermined activities or processes, repeated in each operational period, that provide a consistent rhythm and structure to the required incident management at the scene. With a detailed plan in place, response objectives can be met with the appropriate integrated incident response and coordinated operational support.

An incident is “an occurrence, natural or manmade, that requires a response to protect life or property.” - The National Incident Management System Glossary

The Incident Management Team must ensure that the IAP being developed meets the needs of the incident and the response objectives. Included in the IAP are ICS forms, a valuable resource for advancing a response to controlled conditions. However, leaders must be vigilant that these forms do not become the primary focus of the planning process, but rather a support tool that furthers the integration of a rational and effective planning process.

ICS forms are intended for developing IAPs, incident management activities, and for support and documentation of ICS activities. ICS forms are utilized to document many primary response components and provide the site-specific information utilized during a response. Personnel using the forms should have a basic understanding of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), including ICS, through training and/or experience to ensure they can effectively use and understand these forms.

ICS Forms used with IAP

The following ICS forms are typically included with an IAP. The information below includes the form identification number, the position responsible for form completion, and a summary of the form's objectives.

ICS Form-200: Action Plan Cover Page completed by Resource Status Unit Leader:

  • Identifies the ICS forms used in the IAP.
  • Incident Name
  • Date and time of operational period
  • Approval signature

ICS Form-202: Incident Objectives completed by the Incident Planning Chief:

  • Identifies overall general control objectives for the incident
  • May include general weather forecast for the specific operational period
ICS Form-203: Organization Assignment list completed by the Resource Unit Leader:
  •  Identifies list of assigned personnel for the following
    • Incident Command Staff
    • Agency representative
    • Planning Section
    • Logistics Section
    • Operations Section
    • Financial Section
    • Additional Divisions/Groups
    • Possible Air Operations

ICS Form-204: Assignment list completed by the Resource Unit Leader or Section Chief and Operations Section Chief:

  • Location of Assignments for current operational period
  • Operation Personnel Assigned
  • Nature of Operations
  • Special instructions
  • Group communications summary

ICS Form-205: Incident Radio Communication Plan completed by the Communications Unit Leader:

  • Basic radio channel utilization
    • Channel
    • Function
    • Frequency/tone
    • Assignment

ICS Form-206: Medical Plan completed by the Medical Unit Leader:

  • Incident Medical Aid Station
  • Ambulance service
  • Hospitals
  • Paramedic availability
  • Medical emergency procedures

Other ICS Forms are utilized in the ICS process for incident management activities, but may not be included in the IAP. 

Once the IAP is complete with appropriate ICS form attachments, the plan should:

  1. Specify the objectives for the next operational period
  2. Define the work assignments for the next operational period, including extracts of site-specific safety messages (Note: the Site Safety Plan, ICS Form-208, is generally a stand-alone document which may or may not be included in the IAP)
  3. Define the resources needed for each operational period to reach objectives
  4. Depict organization of response personnel
  5. List radio and telephone communications for all incident personnel
  6. Specify a medical plan to follow in case of a responder emergency

Identify resources at risk: Possibly include a sketch or other graphics of situational and response status that may include trajectories, shorelines, or aerial view results 

Click the image below for a "A Step-by-Step Guide: Be Prepared for Your Next Incident"

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Incident Action Plan, Crisis Mapping, Crisis Management, Incident Management, Regulatory Compliance, Event Preparedness, Emergency Action Plan

Real-time Resources Aid in Incident Management

Posted on Thu, Apr 05, 2012

Various online sources are now available for viewing real-time disaster information across the nation. The Red Cross recently unveiled its newest tool in disaster response, the Digital Operations Center. The new tool utilizes social media to assist in humanitarian relief and disaster response. The Red Cross’ tool demonstrates the growing importance of social media and the dependency on the Internet for a more effective response.

“The social data the Red Cross collects will help our disaster workers and partners make better informed decisions about the community's needs. The Red Cross Center will serve as a “connector”, to help connect people to the resources they need.”

24/7 access to information and real-time tools are extremely beneficial to Environmental, Health, and Safety professionals, local emergency planners, and responders. Some useful websites are listed below:

National Association of Radio Distress-Signalling and Info-communications Alert Map : A Global, all-in-one disaster information map. Includes earthquakes, power outages, epidemics, technological disasters, extreme weather, and more. Events are identified on a global map, as well as listed by country, specific location, event, and disaster level.

Google Public Alerts:Aligns Google Maps search engine with localized emergency incidents.

Space Weather: Due to recent and ongoing space weather activity, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website identifies geomagnetic and solar radiation storms, and radio blackouts.

Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System: A cooperation framework between the United Nations, the European Commission, and emergency managers worldwide to improve alerts, information exchange and coordination in the first phase after major, sudden-onset, disasters.

World Health Map: Global map Identifying localized outbreaks across the globe. Includes summary, disease, location, species affected, cases, and resulted deaths.

Center for Disease Controls US FluView: US map identifying current flu threat levels by state.

Earthquakes: Global map details locations and magnitude of earthquakes over the past seven days.

US Geological Survey: Natural Hazards Support System: US map identifying natural hazards including stream floods, U.S. Volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfires.

Volcano Hazard: A compilation of the volcano web-cams from around the world.

For a sample Emergency Response Checklist, download our helpful and informative guide.

Tags: Emergency Response, Crisis Mapping, Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, Incident Management, Event Preparedness, Extreme Weather, Notification Systems

Risk Mitigation Measures to Minimize Hazards and Business Disruptions

Posted on Thu, Mar 29, 2012

Tornadoes, wildfires, and hurricanes are natural events that can affect the day to day operations of any business.  But incidents that alter the course of operations can also stem from Internet outages, security issues, supply breakdowns, and on-site hazardous materials. Each facility has its own unique associated risks, however through dedicated risk mitigation analysis and proactive measures, hazards and business disruptions can be minimized.

While all risks cannot not be avoided, companies can become better prepared for disasters if the following risk mitigation measures are considered:

1. Identify potential arrangements and assets that can directly minimize the impact of the associated threats including purchasing backup generator, identifying alternate suppliers, contract tree removal companies, or other clean-up vendors.

2. Identify effective facility procedures that may minimize risks including performing scheduled data backups, developing effective response procedures, and exercise emergency response plans.

3. Estimate the cost for implementing of mitigation measures specific to each process and prioritize budgeting, as necessary.

4. Identify and update the recovery point objective to determine what minimum processes need to be “up and running” to conduct business and the time frame that data needs be recovered.

5. Revise and update the “Impact Level” if mitigation measures identified are fully implemented.

6. Evaluate and update the “Likelihood Level” of these events.

7. Periodically review and update mitigation methods.

For a free guide that details the world of HAZWOPER training, download A Guide to HAZWOPER Training.

HAZWOPER training guide

Tags: Business Continuity key points, Crisis Mapping, Business Continuity, Fire Preparedness, Emergency Management, Resiliency