When organizers planned this year's Rescue Rodeo, an annual training event for Southern Company system emergency response teams (ERT), at subsidiary Gulf Power's Plant Smith, they expected the 19 participating teams to work together as usual to exhibit their skills, develop new ones and share lessons learned. They didn't expect one of the teams from plants across the Southern Company system to use its skills to aid an injured driver.
The ERT from subsidiary Georgia Power's Plant Scherer was on the way to the 17th annual event when members witnessed a serious one-car accident during stormy weather. The driver lost control on the wet road and skidded into a light pole. The team stopped to provide assistance until paramedics arrived.
"This is a good example of how ERT training benefits people beyond Southern Company employees," said Southern Company Chief Operating Officer Kim Greene.
The Rescue Rodeo gives ERT members an opportunity to participate in various staged "emergency" situations in order to practice existing skills and learn new ones. For example, an employee may simulate a heart attack, entrapment in a tight space, fall or equipment accident.
While the term "rodeo" suggests a competition, organizers are quick to point out that the purpose of the event is to share information and best practices, develop a team mentality and gain consistency across system training. Designated "victims" reflect "injuries" sustained in different emergency scenarios in order to make the exercises more realistic.
ERTs aim to provide emergency response during fires, technical rescues, medical emergencies and run-ins with hazardous materials. In the late 90s, a small group organized to provide consistent emergency response processes across the Southern Company system. Since then, the ERTs and their executive committee have established training material that develops well-trained instructors and team members who serve as safety ambassadors and provide first-class emergency care.