Emergency Exercises – Putting Teamwork to the Test

Your phone rings at 6:30 am. There has been an incident on a pipeline the CER regulates. Your expertise is needed. You load up your gear and hop on the first plane out to the area to meet up with your team. This is what working in emergency response for a federal regulator looks like. It comes unexpectedly and with many unknowns. You must be fully prepared to work with your team to ensure the company’s response keeps people and the environment safe.

How does the CER prepare their staff for emergency response? How do we work with local and provincial government departments, agencies, and first responders to ensure a collaborative response? Participating in an emergency exercise is one way we can hone our skills and practice working with these other groups. We not only participate in the exercise, but also evaluate how the company did. It helps us be prepared to oversee a company’s response if a real emergency occurs.

Over 70 experts from local, provincial, and federal regulators participated in a recent emergency exercise with Champion Pipeline. They traveled to Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, where they had to imagine a scenario of a natural gas pipeline rupture, and the resulting impacts.

We sent a team of seven Inspection Officers from different specialties including safety, integrity management, emergency response, and environment to partake in, and evaluate the exercise. Paul-Emile, an Emergency Management Officer in our Eastern Region, says it is helpful to have so many different disciplines at the same exercise, “Each person looks at how the company anticipates and manages potential risks from all angles.”

During any emergency, being able to count on your team is key. “You must be able to trust each other. Communication is important and keeping everyone informed of what’s going on in the field.” says Paul-Emile. “Exercising different emergency scenarios helps us prepare for any circumstance we might encounter.”

The CER supported the development of the Quebec Pipeline Response Framework. This framework was designed so every agency and oil and gas pipeline company would know their role in the event of a major pipeline incident in Quebec. It encourages emergency coordination and brings a common understanding to the table. The framework was used during the recent exercise in Rouyn-Noranda. It is one example of how we work with multiple jurisdictions in emergency response. “These exercises are essential in improving a genuine understanding of how to respond to an incident,” says Paul-Emile. “We are all part of a team that includes many different responders. We have a common goal to keep people safe in any emergency.”

Check back in the coming months to read the full report from the emergency exercise on our website.

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