Emergency Response Drill Tests How Different Agencies Work Together

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

WEST ODESSA--The South Mojo Booster for DCP Midstream provided the backdrop for Wednesday's drill.  Obviously it's a situation that no one hopes will every happen, but if it does, crews will be ready.

"Situations like this can and do happen.  We were prepared for this one, without any surprises," Capt. Kevin Jackson with the Odessa Fire Department, said.

From the gas leak, to the injured, to the press conference, it was all part of the simulated training excercise, "At approximately 8:16 a.m., DCP Midstream field operations received an alarm indicating and H2S release at our South Mojo Booster station," Michael Betz, Asset Mgr. for Goldsmith Fullerton Operations of DCP Midstream, said.

The drill is designed to give different agencies the chance test themselves, work together and see how they each respond in an emergency situation, "It's what we call Unified Command, utilizing a representative from each agency to work together, as a team.  It's a joint operation between the Odessa Fire Dept., Odessa Police Dept., Ector County Sherfiff's Office, DPS, Medical Center Hospital and DCP," Capt. Jackson explained.

Only a select few knew what the scene would be when they got there.  Betz says they planned it like that for a reason, "The way we train for these types of drills is to be spontaneous.  If you drill and everyone knows the scenario, you don't get to understand the gaps in your system.  That's why you drill, so you can understand the gaps and close those gaps."

A drill like this is of mutual benefit for emergency responders and company personnel alike.

"It's absolutely critical that we build that relationship with the first responders and those other community support mechanisms, like the hospital," Betz added.

In Wednesday's simulation, response teams treated 11 people for various injuries.   Everything happening as close to reality as possible. "In real life, it usually takes a little longer to get our equipment out here and get in place.  That would be the only difference," Capt. Jackson said.

DCP Midstream officials say they will take what they learned at the drill and put it to good use in the future, "We never want anything to happen, but when something does happen, we act appropriately and we take care of our employees, our contractors and the public, in the best manner possible."