Jacksonville, Florida,
09:31 PM

Annual emergency drill equips employees for new challenges

More than 200 people gathered in Jacksonville, Florida, to participate in a large-scale, simulated response. Members of Marathon Petroleum Corporation's (MPC’s) Corporate Emergency Response Team (CERT) joined 27 organizations to practice every facet of a real-life emergency response, from arranging logistics to wildlife cleanup to communications. As with previous years, the 2016 CERT Drill was an opportunity to practice plans and develop relationships with those who would aid MPC in responding to a real situation.

“We chose Jacksonville as the location for this year’s drill specifically to establish relationships with the response community in an area relatively new to our business,” said Corporate Emergency Response Manager Rick DeFend.

MPC acquired the terminal in Jacksonville in 2013 along with other assets included in the purchase of the Galveston Bay refinery.

“In addition to these new relationships, the exercise proved to be an invaluable learning experience for new CERT members and representatives from external agencies.”

The 2016 CERT Drill took place the week of August 15 and simulated a significant oil leak after several storage tanks and a Jones Act product tanker sustained damage during a storm. The vessel involved in the scenario was one of the four tankers built for the joint venture between MPC and Crowley Maritime Corporation.

“Each year, we strive to develop a scenario that tests the full team with multiple challenges,” said Pat McCaffrey, senior HES professional in the Emergency Preparedness Group. “Given our new relationship with Crowley, this year’s scenario was an excellent opportunity to involve their employees in a combined response.”

About CERT

CERT is a cross-functional team made up of specifically trained members from across the company, ready to respond to an emergency at any time. The team is staffed and maintained to provide response management and to provide corporate resources and technical support during an emergency situation. Members are trained to use the Incident Command System, which is widely used by government agencies and emergency responders, allowing CERT to integrate seamlessly in a time of crisis.

When academics and real world come together

One 2016 CERT Drill participant was there for strictly academic reasons. Dr. Tim Murphy, associate professor of environmental, safety and occupational health (ESOH) management at the University of Findlay (UF), was invited to attend the exercise thanks to an agreement between MPC and the university’s ESOH program.

In 2015, MPC announced a three-year contribution and support agreement to enhance the ESOH program through new scholarships, upgrades to the facility and equipment, and a faculty internship program. The faculty internship program includes opportunities for UF professors to join MPC employees in the field to use new equipment, learn new techniques or complete research projects. Dr. Murphy was the first to participate in this program with his attendance at the drill.

“Dr. Murphy mentioned his desire to learn more about emergency responses, specifically how MPC manages them,” said Trevor Gillig, advanced HES professional. “The CERT drill was an excellent opportunity for him to see how we manage a large-scale response.”

The ESOH program at UF has produced many current MPC employees. In fact, six of Dr. Murphy’s former students, now MPC employees, participated alongside him at the drill.

“Our contribution agreement is aimed to help UF continuously improve the quality of their educational programs, which benefits MPC by providing us with knowledgeable and better-prepared candidates for future employment,” said Gillig.

Quick Facts about MPC's CERT Team:

  • Established in 1990
  • CERT is made up of six main groups, including the Emergency Strike Team (EST) and the Emergency Suport Group (ESG)
  • EST is made up of approximately 100 members
  • ESG is made up of approximately 85 members
  • CERT has responded to product releases, product quality issues and humanitarian efforts
  • CERT, along with federal, state, and local responders, participates in an annual three-day exercise