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Revolutionizing Emergency Response: FirstEnergy Pioneers Storm Preparedness Training in PA

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Lauren Miller

May 20, 2024 - 15:19 pm

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FirstEnergy Drills into Emergency Preparedness to Bolster Storm Response in Pennsylvania

READING, Pa., May 20, 2024 – In an era when extreme weather events are becoming more common, FirstEnergy Pennsylvania Electric Company (FE PA), falling under the FirstEnergy Corp. umbrella, has recently completed its annual emergency preparedness exercise. The aim is simple: to ensure its employees are adept and ready for storm roles, enabling a swift restoration of services if severe weather wreaks havoc in the eastern Pennsylvania region, which is covered predominantly by woodland. The service area in question is expansive, demanding both precision and efficiency in the face of a crisis.

It was at Met-Ed’s headquarters located in Reading where employees congregated to hone their skills. Collating their efforts in a hybrid pattern of remote and in-person collaboration, similar to real-life restoration activities, the participants made use of the latest electronic storm tools to direct field work. The significance of this exercise rests in its objective to enhance employee readiness for storm-induced responsibilities and to recollect the critical processes and tools necessary for a prompt and secure power restoration.

Scott Wyman, who spearheads FirstEnergy's operations in Pennsylvania, emphasized the value of such storm drills, saying, “Storm drills provide our employees a controlled, no-fault forum to practice and sharpen their skills in preparation for severe weather, including summer thunderstorms packing strong wind gusts. Regular emergency drills are another way we work to improve electric service for our customers, in addition to tree trimming and projects we do to harden our electric infrastructure and enhance its resiliency.”

The simulation painted a picture of catastrophic weather – powerful June thunderstorms marching across Pennsylvania and New Jersey with gusts surpassing 70 mph. It was these gusts that played the villains, toppling trees and causing widespread pole and wire damage, an unfortunate scenario that left over 400,000 of Met-Ed's 592,000 customers in darkness.

But the crisis didn't end there. A double whammy came in the form of fictional damage to two crucial electric substations, communications lines, and ancillary equipment. Participants were tasked with navigating this complexity and rerouting power safely and efficiently, fully aware that these substations were out of commission.

An essential part of the disaster management effort was the activation of Met-Ed’s Incident Command System (ICS). Recognized and practiced nationally by not just government bodies across all levels but also by non-governmental and private sector entities, the ICS is employed to coordinate responses to major weather incidents or natural calamities.

In the wake of such calamities, Met-Ed’s protocols involve addressing the largest power outages first, thereby restoring service to the majority. They prioritize hospitals, critical medical facilities, communication hubs, and emergency response agencies above all. Following these essentials, crews are swiftly mobilized to restore service to the remaining affected customers.

For additional insight into FirstEnergy's storm restoration strategies and safety advisories, the public is directed to the 24/7 Power Center available at FirstEnergy's outage website.

Serving nearly 600,000 customers, Met-Ed’s jurisdiction spans some 3,300 square miles, stretching across eastern and southeastern Pennsylvania. The company maintains a strong presence on social media, where updates and service information are regularly provided. Customers can follow Met-Ed on Twitter @Met_Ed and on Facebook at facebook.com/MetEdElectric.

FirstEnergy prides itself on core values of safety, reliability, operational excellence, and integrity. Its network of electric distribution companies makes up one of the United States' largest investor-owned electric systems, servicing customers not just in Pennsylvania, but extending into Ohio, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland, and New York. The company's transmission subsidiaries manage an expansive network, approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that bridge the Midwest with the Mid-Atlantic regions. To learn more about FirstEnergy and its operations, visit the company website at firstenergycorp.com and follow on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.

Editor's Note: A visual representation of FirstEnergy employees in action, conducting a storm drill, can be accessed and downloaded for reference from Flickr.

SOURCE: FirstEnergy Corp.