When you’re developing a comprehensive emergency response plan for your business, you cannot overlook creating a shortlist of reliable contractors that will be there for you in a pinch. It’s something that you hope never to have to use, but you will be grateful for if you ever need it. 

Like with any other outsourced responsibility, not all firms will be the right fit for your company. But to help you take the guesswork out of what to look for in an emergency response contractor, in this article, we explore six characteristics that the most successful emergency responders have in common. 

  1. Flexibility to offer short- or long-term assistance
  2. Knowledge of environmental impact 
  3. Ability to deploy their team promptly
  4. Capacity to assist outside of cleanup activities 
  5. Capability to respond 24/7/365
  6. Experience with different types of hazardous materials and emergencies

Flexibility to offer short- or long-term assistance

No emergency response project is exactly like the next — and neither are their timelines. So, while many emergency response companies can swiftly mobilize to assist on a short-term basis and get the job done, consider seeking out a company that has the flexibility to stay longer-term if needed.

Taking this approach rather than relying on several emergency response companies to intermittently assist yields invaluable benefits, including: 

  • Simplifying accounting, scheduling, and other project management and administrative tasks
  • Reducing the number of individuals who need onboarding and site-specific training 
  • Decreasing the number of subcontractors you need to vet
  • Allowing you to build strong professional relationships even during unfavorable situations
  • Ensuring upper management knows that you’re prepared for any emergency 

Case study 

Agility and flexibility are keys to success on any emergency response project, but it was especially critical after TriMedia joined the crew responding to one of the largest inland oil spills in Midwest history. Over six years, we deployed a team with varying skill sets to aid in the oil spill response. 

Throughout the entire project life cycle, we provided team members to assist in nearly all functions of the Incident Commanding System (ICS).

  • Emergency response and work plan preparation 
  • U.S. EPA and MDEQ deliverable development and reporting 
  • GPS surveying
  • Community and work area air monitoring and sampling
  • Groundwater monitoring and sampling
  • Environmental impact assessment 
  • Bathymetric survey and dredging support 
  • Wildlife response center management 
  • Overbank assessments using Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT) and Shoreline and Overbank Reassessment Technique (SORT) 
  • Sediment assessment 
  • Sediment coring and sampling program development, management, and execution 
  • Assessment and remediation activity safety oversight
  • Subcontractor management 

Knowledge of environmental impact 

Swift and thorough hazardous material cleanup is vital for an emergency response’s success. But what happens after the initial cleanup is complete? A contractor that’s well-versed in environmental impacts will be able to identify if there’s potential for the surrounding environment to be affected long-term, and, as a result, help reduce your liability and safely close down the site.

Case study 

When a tanker rolled over and punctured, about 4,000 gallons of gasoline and 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel spilled onto the surface of a highway, the highway’s adjacent shoulders and bridge approach, and the ice on the river’s surface below.   

After the initial response and cleanup activities, TriMedia’s environmental team carried out site characterization activities to identify potential impacts to the soil, groundwater, and surface water. 

  • Groundwater monitoring well installation
  • Sample collection and analysis

The sampling results indicated an impact, so we performed a feasibility study that showed a trailer-mounted soil vapor extraction (SVE) technique would be the most effective option for immediate remediation. Our team then carried out the remediation plan that ultimately removed about 150 pounds of contaminants. 

  • Designed a SVE system and prepared construction specifications
  • Installed SVE wells in the highway right-of-way (ROW)  
  • Coordinated with trade contractors to construct the system
  • Installed and operated the system for four months

Environmental conditions required the system to halt operations before remediation was complete, so our environmental team is working on performing a second feasibility study to assess the most effective path to site closure. 

Ability to deploy their team promptly

During an emergency response, every second counts. So you need a team that can be on the way to your site in just minutes or hours — not days or weeks. When you’re looking for an emergency response contractor, look for companies that can deploy at a moment’s notice. 

Case study

A public school about 40 miles away from TriMedia’s headquarters called our emergency response team after mercury spilled inside one of their laboratory classrooms. Our personnel mobilized with the necessary equipment and instrumentation and arrived on the site within one hour of initial contact. Dressed in Level C personal protective equipment (PPE), the team quickly cleaned up. 

  • Identified spill cause (broken sling psychrometer) 
  • Monitored mercury levels in the air using a portable mercury vapor analyzer (MVA) 
  • Performed background survey of the second floor to determine the impact to adjacent rooms
  • Applied granular mercury sorbent to mercury drops to amalgamate free mercury
  • Vacuumed amalgamated mercury using a mercury recovery vacuum

After the initial cleanup, our industrial hygienists performed air monitoring using the MVA to confirm mercury levels had returned to background levels and the classroom was safe for occupancy.

Capacity to offer assistance outside of cleanup activities 

Something that will help you reduce the number of contractors you need to keep on speed dial is finding firms with diverse skill sets and knowledge bases. Using this strategy allows you to rely on the same contractor throughout the project lifecycle since they can assist in different capacities.  

Case study

Flooring contractors exposed apparent inorganic mercury at an explosives manufacturer’s office facility and called TriMedia to evaluate the situation. Our team helped with hazard identification and evaluation, remediation and waste disposal planning, air monitoring, waste disposal, and remediation. 

As first steps, our team:

  • Confirmed the presence of liquid mercury 
  • Evaluated adjacent rooms 
  • Developed a work plan to address remediation and waste disposal

Before remediation activities commenced, the team prepped the cleanup site: 

  • Performed building-wide air monitoring using an MVI
  • Isolated areas where mercury was found using polyurethane sheeting
  • Established a Negative Pressure Enclosure (NPE) around the isolated sites

And finally, after prepping the site, cleanup began: 

  • Removed all flooring, packaging, wood, dust, and debris, within the NPE as mercury-contaminated waste
  • Recovered pooled mercury using a HEPA mercury vacuum 
  • Drained, rinsed, and wiped out the central sump pit  
  • Sealed a contaminated, abandoned septic lateral with bentonite clay and plumbing test plugs to prevent vapor escape 
  • Contained all waste in 55-gallon steel drums and measured for mercury levels

We then provided followup MVI monitoring before people were allowed to occupy the building and recommended monitoring again at six months and one year. 

Capability to respond 24/7/365

Emergencies don’t wait to take place between 9 and 5. That’s why you need a contractor with an emergency line that’s staffed around the clock. 

Case study

TriMedia maintains a 24-hour Emergency Response System for a local university, which allows us to economically and effectively manage and resolve any emergency that arises.  

Some situations we’ve responded to using this dedicated emergency line include:

  • On-site contractor management
  • Material sampling 
  • Air monitoring
  • Contract administration

Given our relationship with the university, we’ve also responded to work orders to complete abatement activities that support their ongoing operations and maintenance activities. 

Experience with different types of hazardous materials and emergencies

There’s a time and place to bring businesses with niche knowledge into the fold (oil cleanup experts, mercury remediation experts, etc.). However, it’s beneficial to connect with a contractor with a wide range of experience with different types of hazards, materials, and emergencies. 

Case study

After a local power plant flooded, the TriMedia team arrived on-site to assist with emergency response activities associated with two chemical spills. 

The first response involved: 

  • Isolating and characterizing 40 barrels of various oils and lubricants 
  • Removing the barrels
  • Coordinating cleanup of floodwaters and residual oils 

The second emergency spill response involved: 

  • Assessing leaking electrical transformers containing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) 
  • Coordinated transformer removal and repackaging
  • Cleaning up and conducting verification sampling 

If you need a contractor to support your emergency response plan, reach out to our environmental department at 866-866-5125 or contact us.