Recognizing and Protecting All First Responders

Oct 29, 2021 11:50 AM ET

National First Responders Awareness Day is October 28 – a special day which recognizes the heroic men and women who make it their business to take immediate action when disaster strikes.

PSE&G first responders and repair crews routinely team up with local police and fire departments when responding to emergencies including: structure fires, motor vehicle accidents, storm damage involving utility poles, downed wires and gas leaks. The two groups work together to determine the extent of the initial hazard to make the area safe and to take the necessary actions to protect life and property.

One hazard we often don’t like to think about is the hazard of physical violence against our first responders from the very people they’re trying to help. It’s important to know that first responders, including utility workers, are provided with enhanced protections under New Jersey’s criminal code. This special protection will automatically change a charge of simple assault to aggravated assault, which is a felony.

“October 28 is just one day to honor and celebrate all of our partners in emergency response. At PSE&G, our crews respond to emergencies every day. There is not a day that goes by that we aren’t grateful for the professionalism and long standing proud tradition of working together with the unified mission of public safety.” – Mike Hogan, gas operations manager for PSE&G’s Jersey City District

It was that long-standing partnership that prompted the Jersey City Fire Department to ask me to serve as master of ceremonies for their 150th anniversary parade on Oct. 3. As a senior public affairs manager and Honorary Battalion Chief, I was touched and honored.

Jersey City Fire Department Chief Steve McGill said, “It was appropriate to have a PSE&G representative with a longtime connection to the department participate in our celebration because PSE&G and the JCFD have been partners in protecting our communities for over 110 years. It all started when both organizations used horse-drawn carriages when responding to emergencies.”

McGill noted, “Every year, our call volume grows and we are grateful for the trained professionals from PSE&G who join the firefighters at the scene of an incident that includes electric and gas equipment.”

“The safety of our customers, our employees and our communities is always our top priority. This also includes ensuring our partners in emergency response are prepared to work together with our crews as we follow command procedures and keep lines of communication open,” said Hogan.

Being prepared is the foundation of managing any emergency operation. By hosting simulation exercises and training classes with local emergency response teams, PSE&G upholds its commitment to protect the finest and bravest of first responders while working with them on the front lines of an emergency. Even with the challenges of the pandemic, PSE&G hosted nearly 20 emergency response exercises, webinars or training events in 2020. At those events, over 700 first responders, local, county and state emergency officials participated.

These events give everyone a chance to learn how to safely respond to emergencies involving natural gas or electric utilities while also building critical working relationships.

For more information about PSE&G’s emergency response training or education opportunities, please email:

Pictured on the reviewing stand in the feature image (left to right) are Battalion Chief Scott McDermott, Councilwoman Denise Ridley, Dwyer, Fire Chief Steve McGill, Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey and Councilman Jermaine Robinson.