Over the last twelve years, Alabama 811 has partnered with many of the gas and pipeline operators in the state to help those operators meet their public awareness goals in the form of the APACT (Alabama Public Awareness Training Cooperative) program.
Each year, these operators are required to make contact with the emergency responders, excavators and public officials in their areas and provide some basic, but necessary information. That information includes their most up to date contact information, what type of products they are transporting, how to respond if an incident were to occur, the importance of using 811 to notify the member utilities in their areas, and many other important pieces of information.
This program is presented across the state in area meetings where on average four to five counties are grouped together, and the operators in those counties, along with Alabama 811, conduct a localized meeting. Eighteen well-attended meetings were conducted across the state, where the invited guests received basic, but potentially life-saving information.
The usual format of the meeting is an afternoon meeting where guests will arrive, visit with the local pipeline operators who have set up a display, be served a hot meal, followed by the presentation and usually LOTS of door prizes.
However, for five of the area meetings this year the format was changed to a more interactive content. In lieu of the normal sit-down meeting format, the APACT program, in conjunction with Enertech, which specializes in public awareness programs across the country, provided a more hands-on and interactive learning format. Mock line strikes were held this year in Decatur, Gardendale, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa.
During a mock line strike drill, local emergency responders, pipeline operators and excavators are utilized to conduct this mock emergency drill. The drill included the “right way” to conduct a simulated excavation, where 811 was used, and steps were taken to avoid damage.
Following the “right way” came the “wrong way”, where an excavator doesn’t follow the proper steps and procedures, needs their excavation done quickly, and corners are cut, resulting in a dangerous pipeline rupture. Once the rupture occurs, one of the crew becomes overcome with product, and local emergency responders and the pipeline operator are utilized to respond to the incident, extract that person from the situation, and stop the flow of product.
The responses the APACT program received from the demonstrations were overwhelmingly positive. One operator commented on how realistic the blowing product looked. Another emergency responder commented on how they would have been responded was spot on to what was presented.
For 2018, meetings again will be held across the state, with the potential for more mock line strikes in other areas.
The APACT program would encourage you that if you work, live or respond to areas where pipelines are located, to attend these meetings in the future.
For more information about your local pipeline operator APACT participants, pipeline incident training opportunities, what products those operators are transporting, and other information, please visit www.apactpipelineawarness.com for more information or contact McKay Lyvers at firstname.lastname@example.org.