APGA Mutual Aid Moves Forward

By Simon Cook posted 8 days ago

The APGA Mutual Aid program was formally approved by the APGA Board of Directors during the May 2019 Board Meeting in Alexandria, Va. This program has been in development for many months and is now in the final stages of being launched. It was developed with input from the APGA Operations & Safety Committee, as well as the Mutual Aid Task Group, and went through several iterations to allow as close to 100 percent participation from APGA members as possible.

The final agreement addressed concerns brought forward by APGA membership, including indemnification, workers compensation, and Operator Qualification.
• Indemnification - The APGA Mutual Aid Agreement states that the Requesting System indemnifies Responding Systems “to the full extent permitted by law, but without waiving and subject to all defenses including all constitutional, statutory and common law immunities and limits of liability, to release, indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Responding System…”

• Workers Compensation - The APGA Mutual Aid Agreement maintains that “At all times, employees of a Responding System continue to be employees of the Responding System and are not ever deemed to be employees of a Requesting System.” The agreement states that the Requesting System will compensate the Responding System’s employees’ “wages and salaries for paid time spent in Requesting System’s service area and paid time during travel to and from such service area, plus Responding System’s standard payable additives to cover all employee benefits and allowances.”

• Operator Qualification - The APGA Mutual Aid Agreement puts the onus on the Requesting System to ensure that those working on their system are Operator Qualified. It states that the “Requesting System must specify in their request for aid what tasks are covered tasks per 49 CFR 192 subpart N. The Requesting System receiving personnel pursuant is required to confirm that Responding Company personnel’s knowledge, skills and ability are consistent with Requesting Company’s needs.
Various other concerns were also addressed before the final agreement was voted on and approved by the APGA Board of Directors, and they are reflected in the version all members will receive in the coming weeks.

Beginning in late June, APGA staff will be sending all APGA members the approved Mutual Aid Agreement form that will need to be signed by the designated point of contact for the program. Once signed, this will induct your system into the program. In the event of an emergency, mutual aid is not triggered until a Request for Aid (RFA) form is filled out and sent to Simon Cook of APGA staff. At that point he would identify potential matches based on what the system is requesting and then put the two (or more) systems in contact with each other. After the match has been made, APGA steps away from further decision making and allows the requesting and responding systems to coordinate the logistics of the relief until completion.

It is the intention of APGA to have as many members sign the Mutual Aid Agreement form as possible in order to create a robust and effective Mutual Aid Program. The more members that sign, the more resources there will be to utilize in the event of a disaster or emergency situation – a critical component during a scenario requiring an urgent response.

For questions on this article, please contact Simon Cook of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at scook@apga.org.