September is National Preparedness Month, and those preparations extend to the science areas of the Lab. Last year the Lab was faced with several Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) which provided unique challenges to a large scientific community such as the Lab. This week we talk with two of the Mission Support Officers who went through the PSPS experience last year and have been preparing for more this season.
Nikki Humphreys is Area Deputy for Biosciences and Operations Deputy for the Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology Division and the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division. She spent many hours last October in the Lab’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) preparing for a shutoff of power, then more hours bringing the equipment within Biosciences safely back on line.
Had you ever worked within the EOC before either in a drill or for an actual event? If so, what was that experience like compared to the PSPS?
Last year’s PSPS event was my first experience working within the EOC.
You support several lab locations. How did that complicate planning for a power shut off?
At this time last year, the Biosciences Area was located in 14 different locations that spanned the Lab’s main campus, Donner Hall on campus, Aquatic Park in West Berkeley, Emery Station East in Emeryville, and the JGI in Walnut Creek. Luckily, the PSPS was focused on Hill locations, Donner, and the JGI. However, this required coordination with UC Berkeley while also keeping a watchful eye on conditions in Walnut Creek.
What key learning are you carrying over from last year into planning for this year?
The Essential Personnel and Equipment Lists proved to be instrumental during last year’s PSPS event. Conversations and connections with researchers helped me understand their critical infrastructure needs, for example the continuous helium supply required to cool the Magnetic Resonance Imaging system. I stored phone numbers for individuals responsible for these critical systems in my mobile for easy access. Maintaining updated lists and maintaining open communication will be key in managing this year’s activities.