There’s An App for That!

By Nathan Stone

This is an official news release.

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. – When auto accidents, fires, and natural disasters occur, first responders are usually the initial people on the scene. As a result, they face the greatest risk from utility hazards such as downed power lines or ruptured gas pipes.  To give them an extra tool for reporting these hazards, National Grid unveiled a new application at the Saratoga Fairgrounds in Saratoga County on Tuesday, June 27th for nearly 200 first responders from Saratoga and Schenectady counties.

Heather Shampine, right, demos First Responder Mobile Reporting app to local CBS affiliate.

The new smart device app, called the First Responder Mobile Reporting app by iRestore, will give first responders the ability to report emergency situations involving the company’s gas and electric infrastructure. National Grid is the first in the country to use the new application.  The app has been in use by the company in New England since last year.

The program will provide first responders with the ability to send photographs and descriptions to National Grid control centers, giving responding crews more detailed information  of potential damage to the company’s electric and gas infrastructure. The additional information from the app will provide an “eyes-on” field assessment to key National Grid personnel.

“During all emergency and service restoration efforts, National Grid evaluates its crisis and response planning,” said  National Grid Regional Executive Laurie Poltynski,.  “By listening to customers, the company worked to develop the First Responder app as another tool to enhance communication during emergencies and help protect the public safety and the safety of our employees.”

The app demonstration was only part of the planned events for the day, which also gave first responders and public works personnel a front row seat to training about the dangers of live downed  electrical wires as well as what occurs when a third-party contractor damages National Grid’s underground gas pipes.  Simulations were performed to show how electricity can pose danger to first responders and residents when downed wires energize the ground and metal objects, and a simulated pipeline rupture gave participants a glimpse into how quickly gas can dissipate into the air after a dig-up. The training was welcomed by local officials.

“Safety of our residents is always a top priority of Saratoga County,” said Galway Supervisor Paul Lent, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee. “This important training provided by National Grid ensures our first responders are prepared to react to these dangerous situations appropriately.”

The M.E.O.C. (Mobile Emergency Operations Center)

Inside the M.E.O.C.

Participants were also given a tour of National Grid’s Mobile Emergency Operations Center, a traveling communications and command vehicle that gives the company portability to provide response support during major storm and interruption events.  The MEOC is equipped with a 25-kW diesel generator.

The event was a collaboration between National Grid and Saratoga County, who hosted the event.

“Saratoga County is pleased to partner with National Grid to ensure our first responders are ready to handle any dangerous situation involving utility hazards, such as gas leaks or downed power lines,” said Stillwater Supervisor Ed Kinowski, Chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. “We thank National Grid for their safety stewardship, and assistance in preparation for dangerous events that may occur.”

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The event was covered by several different outlets, and you can watch their reporting here:

National Grid teaches first responders about live wire safety (CBS6)

New app could help first responders reach you faster in a car crash (CBS6)

National Grid Crews Safety Demonstration (WNYT – NBC affiliate)

National Grid to show how to avoid live wires, gas pipes

Communities interested in using for the First Responder app should contact FirstResponderAppSupport@nationalgrid.com or visit National Grid: First Responder App for additional information.

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