There is never a good time for a backhoe to hit a gas line. Nevertheless, some times are more trying than others.
It was already a busy morning. A major storm had ripped through Southern New Jersey – triggering a tornado and causing widespread damage to trees and power lines. Some members of PSE&G’s Audubon gas team were already working to help restore electricity to the thousands who were facing a day of working and schooling without power. Other members of the team were making emergency repairs to a broken gas line.
And then an excavator installing new curbing at Cooper University Hospital in Camden struck an underground PSE&G gas pipe 200 feet from the hospital’s main entrance. During a pandemic.
“Evacuating the hospital, which was a real possibility, during a pandemic would have been the absolute worst case scenario,” said Tony Pezzulo, Audubon district manager. “Despite the busy morning, I’m extremely proud of our team’s quick response to assist this critical customer and avoid the evacuation.”
Cooper University Hospital is one of PSE&G’s many critical customers – that provide essential services including health care facilities, police/fire/ emergency service, schools, and water treatment plants. PSE&G assigns an advisor to each critical customer as part of regular operations, and this role is even more critical during a pandemic.
“We have very close relationships with our community hospitals and keep lines of communication open, 24/7,” said Kendra Grompone, PSE&G key customer advisor for Cooper. “Cooper contacted me as soon as the incident occurred. Our team arrived within eight minutes of the call. I was able to provide the hospital with real-time information as the situation was assessed and the repairs made.”
The hospital leadership said they were truly impressed with PSE&G’s actions to safeguard their employees and customers during the pandemic, particularly the use of personal protection equipment and social distancing guidelines, Grompone said.
“This is an excellent example of great teamwork between PSE&G’s gas operations and customer operations, coupled with a great outcome and a super appreciative customer,” said Joe Forline, vice president, Gas Operations at PSE&G. “Thank you to everyone involved.”