Dakota Gas team goes the extra mile to keep employees safe

Picture this: You’re working at Dakota Gasification Company. As you’re performing your job an accident happens, and you end up in a threatening situation where you need help. Suddenly your worries turn to relief when you see members from Protection Services and the fire/rescue team arrive to help you.

This is the type of scenario the fire/rescue team is trained to handle. This team plays a vital role at the plant, with employees’ safety literally lying in their hands. They are on-call 24/7/365, providing rapid and effective emergency response to a wide range of incidents, including fires, medical emergencies, hazardous material spills, pipeline emergency response, confined space rescues, and high angle rope rescues.

Rope rescues in particular present unique challenges and require specialized skills and knowledge to ensure safe and effective outcomes. In these scenarios, specialized rope techniques and equipment are used to perform rescues in challenging environments within Dakota Gas. This could involve situations such as rescuing workers from confined spaces, retrieving individuals from heights or elevated structures, or extracting personnel from hazardous environments.

Two Dakota Gas employees practice a rope rescue
North Dakota Safety Council played a large role in the rescue training by providing a top-of-the-line indoor training facility.

Over the past several years, the fire/rescue team completed eight hours of training per year, mostly conducted internally.

Safety and teamwork are two values of Basin Electric, which is why Brian Heinert, Protection Services supervisor at Dakota Gas, and Claude O’Berry, Pipeline Operations & Protection Services superintendent at Dakota Gas, knew it was important to invest in their team by providing them with an advanced training program.

Heinert got to work and started getting bids from multiple rope rescue companies.

“Training is important to stay current with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and NFPA (The National Fire Protection Association) regulations and recommendations, and we didn’t have the innovations and knowledge to take our training to the next level on our own,” Heinert says.

Four Dakota Gas employees hold a rope as they practice rope rescues.
The entire fire/rescue team attended the training so everyone has the necessary expertise to respond confidently and competently to each situation and shares a consistent approach to rescue operations.

After researching the industry leaders, Roco Rescue, a widely recognized leader in the field of rescue training, was selected to provide the team with a custom, hands-on training program. An intensive four-day, 40-hour course was developed to dive deep into OSHA and NFPA requirements, ensuring that team members were fully versed in the latest requirements and best practices for rope rescue operations.

“This particular training was chosen because it had all the different types of rescues the team may encounter, like rope rescue, confined space rescue, and high angle rescue,” O’Berry says. “But we also needed to have buy-in from everyone because the commitment would be to give up their four days off to attend. This dedicated group is always open to training to enhance their skills and are willing to put in the extra time, and this venture proved no different.”

Read more about the fire/rescue team's training in When the stakes are high, Dakota Gas employees are prepared in the 2024 Spring/Summer issue of Basin Today.

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