Mutual Assistance, Logistics Support and Resource Utilization

To: Mo Tesla, Mutual Assistance Coordinator
Springfield Power and Sparks

From: Homer Faraday,
Scrod Basket Electric

Thanks Mo, for the great job you did with all the accommodations you arranged for our crews during last week’s nor’easter. It’s nice to see someone who understands how tough it can be for visiting crews during an emergency. Away from our homes and families, things can get a little testy. By the way, Snake sends his thanks for the canasta tournament you arranged for the guys.

You really outdid yourself this time though. Flying in Rachel Ray to cater the food was awesome. And the celebrity visits from Lindsey Lohan and Mel Gibson – all we can say is wow! I for one can’t wait for the next tornado that blows through your territory.

I’m hesitant to suggest any improvements at all, you did such a great job. But I thought, as a friend, I’d recommend a few time and money savers for you, if you don’t mind.

Like – I don’t know quite how to put this – could you have some work ready for us next time? We know you had a lot on your plate, but we thought we’d be doing some line work as soon as we arrived and freshened up a bit. When we finally got to our first site, your customers seemed a little edgy. I guess they get that way when they haven’t been able to recharge their cell phones for 96 hours or so.

I’m not sure how well our company would do if we were suddenly inundated with all the crews you called in. But maybe next time, you could be a little clearer about what you want. I mean, we could have brought our own safety person, our own field supervision, or our own fleet services support if we knew you could have used them (and believe me, from the way things went, you could have used the extra help). We also have specialized equipment if you had asked us to bring it along.

And haven’t you ever heard of GPS? Decent directions would have helped us get to where you wanted us to work. Oh yeah, and next time, let us know who we should be in contact with as we’re traveling, and who we should report to when we get there.

When we arrived at your Ops Center, we were a little short on details. We probably could have found the Dew Drop Inn ourselves if we knew that’s where you really wanted us to stay. And “Sometime tomorrow morning” is not a work schedule where we come from. A communications process would’ve helped shorten our downtime. Who was it that we were supposed to call when we had those mechanical problems?

Not to get picky, but please provide a safety briefing. We don’t know your safety rules. Are sleeves required? What is your specification on FR clothing – FR 4, 8, 15 – what? Do we have to meet your requirements, or can we work under our own rules? What about fall protection?

You could have let us know what we’d be facing with your locals. Like those attack reporters from that TV station downtown? They came on so strong that Snake wanted to give them first hand experience in splicing live 69kv. I’m sure your people know how to handle your media, but we didn’t know who to call in your PR department. Then there’s those customers of yours down in the peninsula. Nice people once they stopped yelling at us. You could have filled us in a little better about their hot buttons, cuz I think we must have pushed a few of them by mistake.

You need to remember that we don’t know your system, standards or work practices. So next time, if you could assign someone to hold a tail-gate session with us to review the status of your distribution system and the nature of your service territory, that would be great. We just need a few minor details, like maybe your operating procedures.

Assigning someone to us that had a solid working knowledge of your system would have been a nice touch. There is no substitute for someone with in-depth system knowledge, right on the spot. Unfortunately, Herbie from Facilities Management just wasn’t a real good fit for us.

Materials would have been good to have; it would have saved us the trouble of staging that night raid on your storeroom; sorry about the hole in the fence and the door jamb. At least once we finally found your Ops Center, we were able to rifle a few cubicles to find the maps and prints we needed.

Now that we’re back in Scrod Basket, I realize that we probably should have called in our progress sometime, either when we finished a job, or at the end of our shift. Hope that didn’t cause any problems.

Anyway, like I said, just a letter from the road with some minor details you might want to think about. Great seeing you again and the crew really appreciated the live karaoke with Springsteen and the E Street Band. Call us anytime.

Your Friend in Mutual Assistance,
Homer

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How these issues get handled will differ for every company. But what doesn’t change is the fact that you need to be ready to handle them. You need to provide guidance and leadership. You need to have the processes in place to deal with personnel coming in to help.

Seems like a simple enough process – obtain additional help and put them to work, but it involves a lot of different areas of the company. It takes a lot of interrelated plans, and these plans are usually not the responsibility of any one organization. For example:

Mutual Assistance (might be handled by an Emergency Preparedness person)

• Request process
• Supervision of mutual assistance resources
• Record keeping requirements

Logistics Support (might be a Shared Services group)

• Staging area locations
• Housing and feeding process
• Material support

Resource Utilization (usually the Field Operations folks)

• Personnel movement
• Job/work package development
• Material and crew tracking

So how do you make sure that all of these groups and plans are aligned and coordinated? You may have an overall plan, but how do all the supporting groups plans fit in. Same old story…document the process, train people, and practice.

And you might even take a tip from our friend Homer: ask for feedback. You might learn something you didn’t know.

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