Award-winning event featured high-voltage demo, pole-top rescue and AirLife Emergency Medical trauma helicopter
April 27, 2017 – First responders are trained to jump into potentially dangerous situations to save lives – this puts our first responders at the greatest risk from electrical hazards. When it comes to electricity, knowing what to do in the first few seconds on the scene could make the difference between life or death for both victims and for first responders. In an effort to save lives, Mountain View Electric Association, Inc. (MVEA), in partnership with K.C. Electric Association (K.C. Electric), hosted the second annual Live Wires and First Responders event on April 27, 2017 at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in Hugo.
“As electric cooperatives, MVEA and K.C. Electric are the experts in electricity and how to handle emergency situations involving power lines,” Jim Herron, MVEA CEO, said. “We feel it’s our responsibility to our first responders to provide electrical training to ensure public safety needs are met and to communicate with them as technology, and the power line material we use, continues to advance. Collaboration is key in serving our communities.”
Over 70 individuals attended the event including first responders from Lincoln County Sherriff’s Department, Colorado State Patrol, Lincoln Community Hospital Transport, Limon Police Department, Peterson Fire Department, Limon Fire Rescue, Karval Fire, Lincoln County Office of Emergency Management, Flagler Area First Responders and Stratton First Responders. Additionally, staff from Morgan County Rural Electric Association and San Isabel Electric Association were in attendance.
“I think it’s a good idea to inform first responders on the electrical hazards they can encounter during an emergency situation,” Jake Smith, K.C. Electric Association Lineman, said. “It’s also important that they know they should contact us in an emergency involving powerlines, so we can make the situation safe for them and anyone else involved.”
As an award-winning event, Live Wires and First Responders was designed to: help first responders and multiple partnering agencies provide safe electricity guidance to citizens, establish a safe and secure circle around downed power lines, communicate and coordinate with MVEA and have attendees become familiar with MVEA’s electrical safety programs and resources.
During the two-hour training, attendees participated in several training demonstrations. First they watched an in-depth video, which examined First Responder Electrical Safety, from Safelectricty.org. From there, the group watched a live high voltage demonstration. For the demonstration, Linemen from MVEA used a custom-built stage that replicates powerlines to demonstrate arching electricity and various types of power line equipment. Additionally the linemen used hot dogs and grapefruit to simulate what could happen to a person’s body and heart if they were to be electrocuted.
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Next, the training group traveled outdoors where Linemen from K.C. Electric demonstrated a pole-top rescue, which included an incident-response scenario. The scenario started from the time a training dummy was “electrocuted.” Mayday calls were placed to 9-1-1, Lincoln Community Hospital Transport Services paramedics responded to the call, and the scenario concluded with the arrival and response simulation from AirLife Emergency Medical/Critical Care Transport from Denver. Afterwards, attendees had the chance to meet the AirLife crew and take an up close look at the advanced-trauma helicopter.
“The Live Wires and First Responders training gives first responders a greater understanding of everything we need to look at and consider to keep people safe,” Tyler Yowell, Lincoln County Deputy Sherriff, said. “The Sheriff’s Office has always had a good relationship with our electric cooperative, but this training gives us common language and a better understanding of what they can do. I absolutely would encourage other first responders to participate in this training.”
If first responders are interested in future electrical safety training demonstrations, they can email MVEA communications.