Robert Wood receives annual Connie Award
Volume 23, No. 3
Dedicated to assisting emergency responders from behind the scene, Robert Wood from Lumberton, TX, received the Connie Award at the 23rd Industrial Fire World Emergency Responder Conference & Exposition. Although Wood retired from Chevron in 1989, he continues to help emergency responders save lives and property.
He serves on the Beaumont Emergency Services Training Complex Board of Directors and the Hardin County Emergency Services District #2 (Lumberton Fire and EMS) board, and he is a founding member of Sabine Neches Chiefs Association. Wood also helped found industrial fire training at Emergency Safety Training Institute (ESTI) at Texas A&M University and served as an instructor and advisory board member, retired Chief Henry Smith with ESTI said.
"We weren't this large a group, but all the guys worked together real well and they knew each other," Wood said. "When we had an emergency, we didn't worry as much about what was right, what was wrong, what was legal and what wasn't then. We would just respond. Of course, we didn't have a lot of these rules and regulations we've got today, but we helped each other."
Since serving as fire chief for Gulf, which became Chevron, Wood has seen the development of industrial emergency response firsthand. His most valuable lesson learned is to know the strengths and backgrounds of team members to best use their talents in an emergency.
"I had the idea to pick the people with different talents," Wood said. "That way any emergency you go to, there is someone there who has some background and knowledge in that area. They might have some medical talents, accounting skills, equipment maintenance or people skills. We needed people who spoke foreign languages, which is very important to us with ships from all over the world docking at our terminal. Whatever we needed, we just took it and used it. When something happens in the night or on the weekends, you don't have time to call people from town to come out and respond to take care of you. If you've got a big leak, you've got to stop it as quickly as possible."
Wood remembers the days when industry and agriculture worked hand in hand. The plant cafeteria provided slop for hogs on the premises, cattle grazed in the area surrounding the levies and an on-site ice house provided the ice blocks to preserve butchered cattle used in the cafeteria.
He keeps current with the needs, expectations and direction that the field strives to achieve. His continued involvement through professional organizations and experienced colleagues helps keep training relevant and timely and provides new leaders a realistic perspective for managing the challenges of the day.
The Connie Award, created to honor the memory of Roberts Company, Inc. co-owner Connie Gross, annually recognizes an individual for his or her commitment to supporting the fire and emergency response industry by taking responsibility for the tasks and relationships that are not always evident to the masses.