|Some power company trucks restringing line.|
The next time we feel compelled to complain about how long it takes to restore our power following tornadoes, wind shear or other disasters, we need to remember how dangerous the job really can be. Yesterday in the car, I heard that a man who is a power worker from another area who was under contract to our local power company, had died. He apparently was working without complaint with a crew here, and started not to finish his sentences. The men working with him, told him to sit for awhile in the air conditioned truck and get some cool water. When they next checked on him he wasn't there. He was found a short distance away under a bush. Emergency services was called but the man died, presumably of heat exhaustion. Apparently, the crew with him did not know that when a person with heat exhaustion appears disoriented, or exhibits neurological symptoms, that it's time to call an ambulance in order to give him the best chance of survival. My heart goes out to this man's family, and also to those on the crew who worked with the man.
A friend of mine has a relative who has worked as an electrical lineman for years. Recently, he restored the power to a woman running a methamphetamine lab in a rural area, and her paranoia went haywire. She attacked him while he was still in the cherry picker, by causing the truck to come out of gear and roll down and crash. The man may not survive his unjuries, although he has thus far.
In doing research for this post I found a number of articles this week in which a number of power workers were killed in the mammoth effort to restore power to the East Coast following the bevy of tornadoes and storms in the past week or so. In Virginia's Loudoun County, Jacqueline Green, a 22 year veteran of a Florida power company was killed when her brakes failed.
In Kern County, California, a lift worker doing power restoration died while falling from an elevated lift. Luis Roberto Minjarez lived in Los Angeles.
As hard as utility companies work to promote safety and best practices in the field, and as hard as OSHA works to protect workers, there are unforeseen circumstances, mechanical failures, and human failures which may result from severe conditions. Most of the time a work environment can be kept safe, but circumstances may arise which make a given circumstance or particular restoration hazardous. The next time you see a power worker, please thank them for the work that they do, and for their willingness to help to restore our power infrastructure in all weathers and in all situations. Both of the workers who died this week, that I mentioned, were from other areas of the country and were not required to come to Virginia. They had volunteered to come and help.