The focus of the meeting was to make sure everyone understood their duties and responsibilities within the program as well as reviewing the program and past experiences to determine if the plan is working and if not what needs to be changed. One of the points brought up was that when a manager is overwhelmed due to an incident, it is important to remember that you can ask for another manager from mutual aid to help assist in the many duties during a restoration. The key point for anyone asking for help is to take a detailed analysis and list what exactly you need for materials, types of crews, what crews need to bring with them, personal protective equipment – this could be FR clothing requirements, to whom and where to report, how long they will be needed. There is a formalized list of steps you should take when requesting help and also when you are responding to an assistance request. All of these steps are laid out in the IAMU Mutual Aid Program; here is a link to the program on the IAMU website http://www.iamu.org/en/mutual_aid/
The program also gives you the names of your Coordinator to call during an event, the mutual aid reimbursement rates, a copy of the agreement that the utility signed, key IAMU staff members, IUB gas contacts, and a summary of the IUB rules of when and how to report incidents and outages.
IAMU has been asking its electric and gas utilities to go to our website to update their contact and inventory sheets electronically. We still have 62 electric and 17 gas utilities that have yet to send us their updates. Please go to the link earlier in this story to update your information. This information is very important to your area mutual aid coordinator and IAMU staff. The information you enter is being downloaded into a spreadsheet that coordinators and staff can use to help find materials, equipment and crews when you need help.
This next year IAMU staff will be working on preprinted checklists that can be used by requesting utilities. These checklists will help both the utility and the mutual aid coordinators get a better understanding of what is needed during restoration. In 2015 staff is planning regional mutual aid meetings with all electric, gas, and broadband members to explain the program and get feedback on ways to improve.
Finally, it is important to understand what the IAMU Mutual Aid (MA) Program, is not. There has been some confusion with some members that the program can be used when you just need on-call coverage, or need help on your system outside a disaster. The IAMU MA Program and it’s published rates is to be used only during an incident; a car running into a regulator station, a tornado, ice storm, outages that you can’t handle on your own. If you need construction, regular maintenance, or on-call coverage, then you should enter in some form of an agreement with another community owned utility for those services.
Our community owned utilities in Iowa and across the county have a long history of responding to our neighboring utilities during a disaster. The IAMU MA Program has been a part of that organized response for decades and it has worked very well. But like all things, we need to review, revise, and make updates and changes to continue to improve our restoration times for our customers.