This week's articles about the pipeline workshop and Chuck Freese's duties as emergency management coordinator (page A1) are reminders that crisis responders are looking after us even as we sleep and go about our business.In an attitude of self-importance we may be tempted to say we are quite capable of taking care of ourselves. But the truth is, we get by only with a little (perhaps a lot of) help from our friends - the emergency responders.
Mr. Freese, who works out of his business in Penn Township, is contracted by local municipalities Penn, West Grove, London Grove, Londonderry and Upper Oxford to coordinate and manage their emergency systems. He said that not only means jumping into action when a tornado or flood occurs, but also responding to complaints and warnings of conditions that could potentially lead to problems. He then passes on that information and makes sure the proper agency or combination thereof reacts.
In the midst of a widespread emergency, he is the one who coordinates the efforts of the various police and fire responders who have been summoned to the scene. He also oversees the public relations of the event.
Mr. Freese said it's not just Mother Nature that delivers emergencies like tornados and floods, either. Given an attack like 9/11 in a nearby city, he anticipates and prepares for the potential of residents fleeing to this area. He noted that if Delaware River Bridges become disabled, the main direction these people would come is westward.
To that end he has to make sure that emergency housing and medical reactions are constantly up to date and prepared for whatever happens.
The public owes a debt of gratitude to people like Freese, who quietly protect them disasters that aren't here yet, and may not arrive because he is vigilant.
The public can also thank the Public Utility Commission for updating our emergency responders on the techniques of dealing with problems in the underground pipe system as it did last Friday.
At a voluntary meeting at the Kennett Fire Co. Red Clay Room, police and fire fighters from Chester and Delaware counties received information at an all-day workshop about how to deal with explosions, how to decontaminate people who had come in contact with toxic substances, and how to handle crowd control in the event of a pipeline emergency.
As the area, especially Southern Chester County, continues to grow and expand, more and more heavy vehicles will be digging into the dirt and risking severing, denting and puncturing one or more of the labyrinths of pipes that deliver local gas, fuel and water.
The risk extends beyond the municipal level. Indeed, every home that uses natural gas or propane, connects to water or is hooked up to electrical communication wires has a whole other neighborhood of pipes underground.
That's why it's important for the public to call the number 811 to secure information about the location of pipes, even if the project is the mere planting of a tree. After all, it's easier to prevent than remediate, said Buckeye Partners information specialist Kevin Dougherty at the workshop.
And while you are at it, remember to thank those public servants who stand ready to respond 24 hours a day, so the rest of us can sleep soundly.