5 Considerations for Selecting an Emergency Response Team

As an oil and gas company in Canada, it is required by law under OH and S (Occupational Health and Safety) to have an emergency response team or rescue team on standby with rescue plans in place and available to workers during work in confined spaces. Work in confined spaces commonly arises during construction or scheduled maintenance/turnaround projects when repairs are needed or when working at heights.

Some larger companies elect to provide their own rescue services team, which may seem cost effective in the short term. However, these in-house teams have other primary roles in the plant and may be unable to attend or complete the training that’s required. If a real emergency situation arises, the lack of training compared to a 3rd party rescue team could become evident. This can result in higher costs from potential equipment or property damage, or even worse, put workers’ lives in unnecessary danger.

The other option is to enlist the help of a professional rescue services company. These are specialized teams that are trained to respond to emergency situations promptly and professionally. But, what should you look out for when you’re trying to select a provider of these services? Here are a few tips we recommend when making the decision.

1. Certifications

Look at the certifications that both the company and the team members hold. At a very minimum they should be certified in:

  • First Aid, CPR/AED
  • WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System)
  • TDG (Transportation of Dangerous Goods)
  • OSSA Fall Protection
  • OSSA Confined Space Entry and Rescue

Other certifications to look out for are:

  • EMR/EMT (emergency medical responder / emergency medical technician)
  • IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) and SPRAT (Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians) Certifications
  • NFPA Certifications (National Fire Protection Association)
    • 1001 Certified Firefighter Level 1
    • 1001 Certified Firefighter Level 2
    • 1006 Rope Rescue Technician

2. Experience

Make sure the team you hire has experience in the services they’re you and on projects of a similar nature to yours. While the law requires rescue teams to be in place for certain types of work there, is no industry standard to the minimum level of training needed for rescue teams. This often means a lack of experience in rescue teams sent out by a lot of safety companies. Given the extremely technical nature of high angle rope and confined space rescue, you should ask the provider about their team members’ past experiences.

3. Ability to Customize Solutions

You work for an oil and gas company, it shouldn’t be your job to develop an integrated rescue plan that takes into account every aspect of your project and site’s operations. When hiring an emergency services rescue firm, ensure that they can provide more than just a cookie-cutter solution. The best rescue firms will provide an in-depth rescue plan specific to your project needs, the emergency equipment needed for the engagement, and the tactical execution of the plan with a team trained to respond to a variety of potential emergency situations.

4. Insurance

Ensure your services provider is adequately insured for the project. Insurance is a fundamental necessity in any industrial, commercial and construction workplace setting. Working with an emergency services provider that carries the correct level of insurance mitigates your project risk. Different countries, provinces and states require varying amounts. Double check that your services provider is appropriately covered for the location they are working in.

5. Documentation

Documentation is not a necessary evil, it is an absolute necessity. A good emergency services provider will provide thorough documentation of the company, technicians and workplace activities. This documentation should be up-to-date and available if the client requests it. Documentation of this nature also helps to provide transparency as well as mitigate risk.

If you have any other questions about hiring an emergency services firm for your oil and gas maintenance or turnaround project, contact Jesse Hull at jhull@protocolrescue.com.