Emergency Preparedness Week kicks off with simulation

Emergency Preparedness Week simulation presentation at Imperial Research Centre. May 2, 2022. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

Communication and new technology are being highlighted when it comes to tackling emergency situations within the petrochemical industry.

The first week of May is recognized as Emergency Preparedness Week.

Imperial Oil hosted a simulation on Monday in collaboration with first responders. Members of the public sector were invited to the research centre where drone footage was shown from the Imperial Scott Road tank farm.

The simulated incident involved a lightning strike at a crude tank, which eventually led to a full surface fire.

“The goal with this simulation is to make sure we are set up for success and that our mutual partners are through mutual aid as well. To make sure that we have plans that we can effectively act on and respond to an emergency if one were to happen,” said Imperial Oil Capability Development Supervisor Carl Macmillan.

He said this simulation also allows an opportunity for industry partners to test new technology, such as the drone.

“If we were stationed on the ground — in this case, the tank is about 150 feet tall — it’s difficult to tell whether we’re getting that appropriate coverage of fire, water, and foam over the top of the tank, landing to the point where we need it to,” said Macmillan. “With the drone, we can actually fly that to a point where we can see over the sides of the tank to ensure that the stream of foam is getting to where it needs to be.”

Emergency Preparedness Week simulation presentation at Imperial Research Centre. May 2, 2022. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

While internal emergency drills were still conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, Monday’s event allowed for more feedback.

“It’s a really nice opportunity for the municipality to understand the different risks that we have and more importantly, how we respond to those and make sure that we protect the public,” said Bluewater Association for Safety (BASES) General Manager Vince Gagner.

Sarnia City Councillor Brian White said it’s reassuring to know the types of collaboration in place when it comes to emergency response.

“Obviously in Sarnia, one of the biggest concerns we do have is what happens when there is an emergency in our petrochemicals sector,” said White. “To know that there’s as much collaboration and high-tech opportunity here to grow and improve is certainly a great assurance for those of us who reside in the city.”

Aside from providing reassurance and answering questions, Gagner said one of the biggest benefits of Monday’s simulation was an opportunity to learn.

“Though we have these exercises to find out where our strengths are but also to find out where we can improve,” he said. “We’re always actively looking for where things can go wrong and putting controls in place to get ahead of risk.”

BASES Communications and Engagement Coordinator Shaun Bisson also said the collaboration during Emergency Preparedness Week allows them to gain insight into how best to inform the community.

A short public survey was launched Monday afternoon for My Community Notification Network (MyCNN) members.

Gagner said since the launch of BASES, subscriptions to MyCNN have gone up, as has the push of information from industries.

“We’re putting Sarnia back at the top in terms of setting the bar for the rest of North America to follow in terms of transparency and openness, and connecting in a way that builds trust in our community,” said Gagner.

Several other events are planned for Emergency Preparedness Week which include a mental health awareness discussion, the relocation of an air-monitoring station on Thursday and a dedication to follow on Friday at Aamjiwnaang First Nation. Gagner said air-monitoring stations will be named after First Nation elders.