Employee training increases safety, saves lives

From Alyeska:

Life and death situations arise in an instant, at any location, in any environment. Remote field sites, urban settings, even on a casual drive home. Ask Cindy Keuler, Alyeska Environment Program Specialist.

On April 4, Keuler and her sister were returning from Wasilla to Anchorage when they noticed a vehicle pulled off to the side of the road. The driver was standing alongside his vehicle talking on a cell phone while tending to a passenger still seated in the vehicle.

“I could tell something wasn’t quite right.” Keuler asked her sister to turn around. “As we approached the scene, the driver said his friend was having a heart attack.”

Keuler and another passerby immediately began to perform CPR on the man in distress. Keuler ensured there were no obstructions to the man’s airway and began to perform mouth-to-mouth; the man lending assistance started chest compressions.

While relaying their actions to a 911 operator, Keuler noticed the victim was turning blue. “I could tell that the man assisting me was not administering his chest compressions fast enough or strong enough.”

One of the onlookers said that he couldn’t because he (the other responder) had a broken back. Based on this injury, “I told him we needed to switch. It was definitely a situation that required me to Speak Up, Step Up.”

Shortly after they changed positions, emergency personnel arrived on scene, took over the lifesaving tasks and loaded the victim into an ambulance.

Keuler was initially reluctant to share her experience. “I really don’t want the spotlight to be on me. What’s important is the training that allowed me to help. Although I have used my First Aid training many times in the past, I’ve never used my CPR training in a life-or-death situation and I thank God I knew what to do.”

As one of Alyeska’s Emergency Response Coordinators at Centerpoint West, Keuler receives training that keeps her current with First Aid/CPR/AED.

In talking with her sister afterward Keuler said she, too, had never witnessed CPR performed in a real life situation. “It was a true awakening for my sister, and she realized how important it was to know how to respond in emergency situations. She’s now decided to become certified.”

In the days following the incident, Keuler made several trips to the hospital to check on the man and his recovery. “While he was still in Cardiac Intensive Care, I was informed that although he had a long road back he was expected to recover.”

Safety stewardship from shore to sea

From Alyeska Pipeline

Crowley personnel at work in Prince William Sound.
Crowley personnel at work in Prince William Sound.

Crowley is a key partner in Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System. The company owns and operates the tugboats that escort tankers through Prince William Sound and docks them at the Valdez Marine Terminal. Crowley also maintains and staffs the other vessels in the system, like the oil spill response barges located around the Sound. There are over 100 Crowley employees on shift and ready to respond at any given time. These employees may be separated by several miles of land and ocean, but their commitment to safety is bridged from shore to sea.

That bridge is personified by the Safety Advocate Program, started in 2009. Safety Advocates are usually long-time vessel captains or crew who take on year-long assignments to facilitate and improve safe practices in the fleet. Longtime advocate and Crowley Master Richard Frost says he’s a liaison between deck and shore, observing jobs with a keen eye towards safety, and raising concerns from the fleet.

In a normal six-week shift, Frost is in the field about half the time, tagging along on tanker escorts, crew changes, mid-Sound tether drills and other jobs. Crowley has recently implemented a ship visit program, where deck officers from Crowley will visit a tanker and exchange perspectives. Frost credits these visits with a recent reduction in line handling incidents. Crews consistently sit down before each job – no matter how routine – and go over roles, risks and concerns. This ensures that everyone is on the same page before heading to work.

“I continue to be impressed by participation,” said Frost from his shore-side office. “Everyone is very conscious now.”

Feedback runs in both directions. In December, a tug crew brought up an issue: much of their personal protective equipment had water-sensitive lights that would activate if they ever fell overboard, but their work vests did not. Frost went to work researching available models and two weeks later sent two choices into the field for testing. The crew performed a thorough assessment, made a recommendation, and several weeks later Frost distributed lights to crews around the Sound.

“Having crews see their input taken is important,” noted Frost. “It makes them take the process seriously.”

• Submitted by Alyeska Communications.

From Alyeska: Remembering Stan Stephens: Never an adversary, always an advocate

Tom Barrett, President of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company
Tom Barrett

President of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company

Alaska lost a true champion in September with the passing of Stan Stephens of Valdez, a man whose passion for protecting Prince William Sound translated to every aspect of his life, a man I was fortunate to know and call a friend. Stan and I shared a relationship dating back many years, long before I became president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company in 2011. His passing has prompted reflection across the state about his legacy and character. I want to share my thoughts on the life he led, and the legacy of stewardship and integrity he leaves in his wake.

Stan was a practical man and a sailor through and through, a straight-talker and storyteller whose character was defined by strength, patience and practicality. I viewed Stan as an advocate — never an adversary. Together, we believed positive and practical solutions could be reached. Our rapport dates back to my days as commander of the United States Coast Guard for Alaska, when Stan weighed in on environmental and safety issues. His prowess, acumen and knowledge reflected rich understanding of the unique ecosystem of Prince William Sound, and revealed his innate energy around protecting its waterways and shorelines.

Our paths also crossed with the formation of the council, an organization whose work is synonymous with Stan himself. He helped create the group and remained devoted for decades, active until he retired from its board of directors in 2012.

Stan had a sweeping impact on our industry. He dedicated thousands of hours to the council. A Legislative citation issued in 1995 called him a shining example of how “citizens can constructively influence decisions that affect their lives and communities.” Stan’s passion, hard work, and commitment exemplified how a single person can have a profound impact. In his steady and even way, Stan campaigned for vapor recovery systems for tanker loading berths and championed air quality improvements. He advocated for redundant systems to improve safety on the Terminal, and was a staunch supporter of improvements to oil spill prevention and response readiness.

He shared his connection to the Sound with thousands of strangers, shuttling visitors to some of the Sound’s most pristine, special places. He understood that Valdez’s distinction as the terminus for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System helped make the town successful, and demanded that a strong level of responsibility and care accompany that success. From our earliest to our final conversations — talks that took place across the breakfast table at the Totem Inn in Valdez, on decks of boats, and at his hospital bedside — Stan focused on protecting Prince William Sound. He believed in the compatibility of the missions of the council and Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, and in the importance of always continuing to improve the relationship between the two.

Stan kept a weather eye on the horizon. He mentored others, in particular a new generation of boat captains and citizen leaders. This exemplified his leadership — a belief that a captain is only as good as his crew. In our final meeting, just days before he died, Stan expressed high confidence in Amanda Bauer, whom he mentored closely and who is now president of the council’s board of directors, carrying on his legacy.

What I will remember most about our last visit in his office at the Valdez Boat Harbor, the port spread out behind it, the mountains rising up, is that we were reflective together, like sailors standing at the rail on a calm ocean.
Thank you for everything, Stan. Alaska will miss you.

  • This column also appeared in the Alaska Dispatch in September.

Alyeska intern impressed by safe work environment

Every summer Alyeska Pipeline Service Company offers internships to college students around Alaska. This year, we asked them to share their thoughts about their time with Alyeska. Here’s an interview with Kyle Tee, who interned with the Facility Engineering team on the Valdez Marine Terminal.

Kyle Tee
Kyle Tee

Was this your first internship on TAPS?
This is my second Internship with Alyeska. My first Internship was in Anchorage in Project Engineering.

What were your expectations for this internship when you first started?
My expectation for this internship was to learn more information about Valdez and what type of work is involved here. Accepting this internship in Valdez I knew that I would be seeing more of the pipeline and being away from a cubical a little bit more than if I was in Anchorage and I was excited for that.

What was the most interesting or educational project you worked on and why?
The most interesting project I worked on is a design of a snow shelter to access a valve. The reason why it is so interesting is because the space to place a snow shelter is very limited. There is only about 28 inches between the building and a tank and during the winter snow is falling off of the structures and building up between them. So far the design is incomplete but it has been an enjoyable experience with it.

Who is someone who really mentored you, and how did they do that?
Todd Carsten: he gave, helped and guided me on all of the projects I worked on this summer. When we go out into the field I tend to be very observant and ask a lot of questions and Todd has done an outstanding job in providing me with answers to my questions.

Tell us about one of your favorite experiences you had during the internship.
My favorite experience would be the morning that Carol and Jeff Simmons given me the opportunity to kayak to work. It was terribly early in the morning but the whole scenery was beautiful. We didn’t encounter any wildlife of any sort but it was an awesome way start off the day.

Describe what you’ve learned about the TAPS culture.
From this internship I have a greater understanding of the five cultural attributes than I had last summer. The attribute that I most identified with is Making Sound Decision. Ever since I started to work in the Valdez Terminal I have heightened my safety awareness to ensure that I am making sound decision every day when I am out in the field and everything I do.

Now that you’ve spent many weeks working on TAPS, what’s your impression of Alyeska, TAPS, or its people?
My last impression I will have of Alyeska’s will be the extraordinary safety environment that I was given the opportunity to work in this summer.

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