The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and work. Throughout this trying time, Trans Mountain’s first priority has been the health and safety of our workforce, their families and our communities. Our organization has had to modify the way we work and that includes our Emergency Management team.

Our Emergency Management team has implemented a number of measures to ensure safe yet meaningful training exercises can still take place. All participants undergo individual health screening with temperature checks and a COVID-19 self-declaration form to confirm fitness for duty.

This year, we’ve conducted several online wildfire theory sessions followed by hands-on equipment training. By completing this training online, we eliminated the need for in-person classroom sessions for the theory portion. For in-person equipment training, participants use appropriate personal protective equipment including non-medical face masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained, along with the proper equipment decontamination after each training session.

A land and creek spill response exercise that took place this spring provided participants with the opportunity to practice small watercourse response strategies for a simulated release. The scenario for this exercise involved a small spill into an improvised creek system using an on-site drainage ditch. Participants developed an on-scene command structure and designated roles and responsibilities to successfully deploy equipment per identified strategies. Equipment used in this exercise included an inverted weir made of sandbags with PVC pipe, a Turner Valley Gate and a WaterGate. This specialized response equipment is specifically designed to contain released oil within smaller watercourses, such as creeks and drainage ditches, as opposed to more traditional booming operations often witnessed on larger water bodies.

This exercise was used to validate response equipment functionality and to refresh responder knowledge. Two similar deployments occurred at different locations later in the summer. The top priority at each of these sessions was safety with all required COVID-19 protocols being followed by personnel. These exercises confirmed that spill response activities, including training and exercises, can take place safely within a COVID-19 environment.