Emergency drills and exercises are not just the domain of utility companies. A recent example was a week-long emergency exercise conducted by the Rockland Fire Department that involved a whopping 19 local fire districts in Massachusetts. Although I am biased toward emergency preparedness in the utility sector, I must admit that it’s probably even more important for firefighters that put their lives on the line every time they are called out – on average, 100 firefighters lose their lives each and every year.
Of course, the drills themselves differ based on the nature of each respective emergency role – whereas utility drills mainly focus on processes and internal & external communications, firefighter drills focus on physical techniques and survival. For example, firefighter drills may involve things like jumping out of windows, crawling to avoid smoke inhalation, and practicing using a fire hose in a smoke-filled area.
One Best Practice that can be Learned from the Rockland Fire Department Drill
One thing commonly done during firefighter drills that is often omitted from utility drills is having field personnel actually using radio equipment to communicate with the command center. This is something utilities should strive to do as well. It adds an extra layer of realism to the drill, and the more realistic the drill, the more engaged the participants will be and therefore the more they will get out of it. Plus, the use of mobile communication devices in and of itself should be guided by specific protocols, so why not test this out?
In the final analysis, emergency drills and exercises in the utility industry must be as real and all-encompassing as humanly possible, just like what firefighters do. Click to learn more about the Rockland Fire Department drill.