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Municipal and Cooperative Utilities

Committed to Supporting the Nation's Municipal Utilities and Rural Electric Cooperatives

A long heritage of keeping the lights on and homes heated isn’t enough anymore. The pressure on utilities is greater than ever to prevent outages, communicate with stakeholders in real time, and efficiently manage resources during emergencies.

The pace of change and stakeholder expectations are higher than ever, but local resources are staying the same or diminishing. As utilities take a step back to evaluate their emergency and crisis management programs, it can seem difficult to determine what constitutes a good-faith effort when investing time, money, and attention in emergency preparedness, operational continuity, and enhancing response capabilities. Witt O’Brien’s can help. We don’t believe in the one-size-fits-all approach to emergency management. We work with your organization to determine the gaps between your program goals, leading industry practices, your risk tolerances, and your current plans and capabilities to propose cost-effective and implementable options.

Emergency plans are just the beginning. Our approach is one of collaboration, cooperation, and leadership. We provide a wide array of planning, training, exercise, and change management services to help our utility clients create more crisis resistant and resilient organizations. This often starts with a formal assessment of the health and comprehensiveness of your risk, emergency, and crisis management programs or recent response efforts to identify lessons learned areas for improvement. We help you mitigate the impacts of disasters, but can also work alongside your organization after an event to navigate the complex Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement process and steps to recovery.  

Related Info

Prepare

ePlanPro® provides a comprehensive and quality controlled option to today’s complex planning and recordkeeping requirements. Designed by the industry’s most respected preparedness, compliance, and response professionals, and built by our dedicated staff of exclusive experienced developers, this software combines decades of experience using the latest technology to provide this state-of-the-art solution.

Business resiliency for the utility industry includes detailed business impact analyses to identify what is at stake should business processes be disrupted for any reason. It also includes comprehensive business continuity planning that takes into consideration the importance of safety and reliability, while addressing the modern threats of cyber-attacks and an ever increasing reliance on technology. While organizational resilience is our goal, this approach can also reduce the total number of plans and trainings to maintain by providing a more consistent approach to incident management regardless of incident type.

With Witt O’Brien’s behind you, your organization does more than plan. You will have accurate and dependable plans in place, in addition to a team that is available and stands with you when you need help the most. We offer comprehensive health, safety, environmental, and security (HSES) regulatory consulting; planning; and program management services that are user friendly, cost effective, and easy to update.

Our approach to crisis management planning helps you face the tough decisions and establish processes for issue resolution and information sharing before a crisis happens. This includes crisis management and crisis communications training with a customer-focus while balancing the need to set realistic expectations with regulators and the media. We also stand ready to provide crisis management and crisis communication support with real-time coaching during major events or spokesperson support to help you manage the reputational impacts of a crisis.

Witt O’Brien’s has broad knowledge and experience developing emergency plans and planning frameworks for utilities, Fortune 500 companies, and state and local governments. Our plans are not only built on industry-leading practices and national standards, but are carefully integrated into the culture and existing structures of your organization.

Witt O'Brien's regulatory compliance experts provide comprehensive health, safety, environmental and security (HSES) regulatory consulting, planning, and program management services. These services range from on-call consulting to full-scale program development and implementation. Each of these programs is recognized for being user friendly, cost effective, and easy to update.

Witt O’Brien’s specializes in organization-wide implementation of the principles and frameworks of the Incident Command System (ICS)—an industry-leading practice that can be utilized for a quality response for all types of incidents in all parts of your organization. Our utility practice is led by experts with extensive experience in implementing ICS and creating meaningful change in the utility environment.

As an emergency and crisis management firm staffed with industry experts, Witt O'Brien's has a unique perspective on the capabilities utilities need to respond to incidents and crises. We don’t just focus on one aspect or your response or operations; we can provide insights on all your individual efforts and the integration between them to get a more realistic picture of how your organization will fare following a crisis. Once gaps are identified, areas for improvement can be prioritized, and our emergency and crisis management practitioners can provide a wide range of to services to bolster the efficiency and effectiveness of your organization during emergencies.

Witt O'Brien's risk identification and mitigation services allow you to leverage the expertise and experience of our emergency and crisis experts, along with the lessons learned from our clients across the country over the last decade. We don’t just take a one-time snap shot of the risks facing your organization, but can help you establish processes to improve risk visibility among decision makers and establish long-term strategies and thresholds for investment in risk reduction.

Witt O’Brien’s understands the substantial financial commitment required to pull your employees out of the field and into a training classroom, or from the boardroom into a day-long emergency exercise. We appreciate the opportunity cost, but we also know there is no substitute for well-trained personnel in an organization with strong emergency plans and a culture of safety and preparedness. To that end, our trainings and exercises not only use national standards, such as the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP), but are capabilities driven. This means we focus building and testing the capabilities that your employees and leadership need to respond to an incident or crisis, not just reiterating text from your plans.

Respond

CommandPro® was developed by the world’s most experienced and knowledgeable emergency preparedness teams. The software is most noted for its universal access and complete integration. This affords organizations the ability to respond faster and with greater resource control.

On a daily basis, emergency incidents and planned activities are continuous and ongoing. Maintaining situational awareness of events and activities can be challenging and time consuming. Witt O’Brien’s Common Operating Platform (COP) enables current situational awareness with access to information and real-time data through the medium of a dynamic map for use by emergency management personnel and other authorized officials. If an incident evolves into an extended emergency, Witt O’Brien’s COP scales and provides a complete Incident Command System (ICS) module with all of the appropriate ICS forms and maps to develop a standard Incident Action Plan (IAP).

When time matters most, clients rely on Witt O’Brien’s experienced qualified individuals and watch standers. Located in Slidell, Louisiana, our 24/7/365 Command Center is operated by trained responders and is the first call for the majority of our clients.

Communicate

PIERPro offers a secure, enterprise-wide cloud-based communications platform which provides flexible solutions for handling internal and external communications, making it easier to deliver messages, streamline processes, automate tasks, and prevent inaccuracies during routine events, minor incidents, and major catastrophes.

Recover

Continuous improvement should be a cornerstone in any mature emergency management program. Developing after-action reports following major events and exercises maybe the norm within your organization—and a best practice across the utility industry—but it can be easy to overlook the root cause of issues that surface during response and restoration activities. Witt O’Brien’s industry experts can help by providing a fresh, knowledgeable perspective to enhance your continuous improvement efforts. We tailor all of our assessments to your needs, which may include conducting an after-action reviews or independent assessment of your program or response to a specific event, developing a detailed reports of findings, and preparing corrective action plans with specific milestones and timelines.

Obtaining grant funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies to help with your disaster response and recovery efforts is a major challenge. Keeping these funds through the closeout and audit process, however, can be extremely difficult and can expose you to substantial financial risk. Witt O’Brien’s has a proven track record of providing utility clients with the technical assistance to prepare for closeout, assisting you with fully documenting and justifying your costs, maximizing the funding you receive, and resolving any outstanding issues to protect you from potential recoupment efforts. Witt O’Brien’s experts have played an integral role in nearly every significant disaster in the United States, including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, and Sandy as well as the historic summer floods in the Midwest in 2008. Through these engagements, our professionals have helped with the closeout and audit of tens of thousands of federal grant awards in partnership with our clients, reviewing documentation, and achieving financial reconciliation in order to resolve grant funding awards with respect to approved scopes of work.

Witt O’Brien’s is a nationally recognized leader in assisting municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives manage disaster recovery, navigating the FEMA Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant Programs, and providing expert staffing support to address immediate needs and maximize recovery funding.