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Combining energy, emergency resources benefits everyone

Post Independent OpinionGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Some things just plain make sense to do.That’s how emergency responders and the energy industry are characterizing their efforts to better coordinate and share resources when it comes to emergencies, both industry-related and otherwise.But just because something makes sense doesn’t mean it automatically happens. It takes initiative, which is what helped bring about the discussions now taking place between more than a dozen governmental agencies and several energy companies.EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) safety advisor Jake Jacobs helped get the collaborative effort going, approaching public safety responders about how they could work together. And other energy companies also are taking part in the effort, such as Williams Production, Shell, Marathon and Xcel Energy.The regional effort, which extends across northwest Colorado and beyond, also is taking the lead from work that already has occurred between the Rifle Fire Protection District and the energy industry to create emergency response protocols.Energy companies and their contractors have lots of heavy equipment and manpower that can be brought to bear in emergency situations such as wildfires, and area residents and fire departments already have benefited from their willingness to help out. But well-meaning operators of water trucks, bulldozers and other machinery can cause problems sometimes as well, if emergency agencies aren’t expecting to have them arrive and need to figure out where to stage them and how to deploy them.Incident commanders also have to worry about whether such helpers have enough safety training, and if a bill might arrive later for services rendered.The talks now under way should help to provide clarity regarding how the industry can be of assistance in such circumstances, and what is expected of everyone. Emergency response agencies also can provide the necessary training.For its part, the industry can help train these agencies in safer responses to emergencies that arise in the gas fields. Representatives hope to continue looking at industry-specific concerns such as vandalism, hazardous spill response, workplace violence, and emergency response in remote areas. The hope is to better hone their approaches to dealing with such matters in the best manner possible.Both energy companies and emergency response agencies bring specific skills and resources to the table that can be beneficial in times of need. It’s good to see them putting their heads together on how best to pool their assets in a way that serves them all, and ultimately the public.


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