DAPHNE — In a medical emergency, seconds can mean the difference between life and death, but a utility worker injured working on an electrical line could be stranded and unconscious more than …
DAPHNE — In a medical emergency, seconds can mean the difference between life and death, but a utility worker injured working on an electrical line could be stranded and unconscious more than 60 feet off the ground.
Each year, Riviera Utilities employees practice rescuing workers who have been incapacitated while working on a high-rise pole or in a bucket truck. Stephen Sullivan, Riviera Utilities, key relationships coordinator, said 60 workers, electric and broadband department employees, took part in the exercises in Foley and Daphne on Tuesday, May 10.
"The purpose of this event, this emergency exercise, is ensure that our co-workers are trained in pole-top and bucket rescue," Sullivan said. "What we're doing here is should one of our employees become incapacitated whether it's a medical emergency or should they be shocked, the members on their crew are trained to go up and rescue them."
In the case of a worker shocked by contact with a live wire, rescuers have to be sure they do not also become victims, Sullivan said.
"The steps are, the first one, the most important one is to secure the scene," Sullivan said. "Should something happen, everybody's going to look around and secure the scene. That way we don't rush in and have somebody else that's hurt. After that it's call 911 and get the AED and at that point, that's when you start going for the rescue."
Workers practiced with dummies the size and weight of an adult.
On a bucket truck, the worker in the bucket controls the operation. If that person is unconscious, a co-worker has to know how to override the bucket controls from the ground and bring the bucket and occupant down safely.
A person who has climbed a pole and been incapacitated might be attached to a safety harness more than 60 feet above the ground.
Employees were drilled in procedures to climb the pole. They had to climb the pole and attach a line to the victim in a way that the person could be lowered to the ground. Once the line was attached, the safety harness was released, and the victim lowered.
All drills had to be accomplished in less than four minutes. Sullivan said workers might be in situations where help from firefighters or paramedics might not be available in time to begin CPR.
"I know that the firefighters, they go through a lot of training, so without a doubt, we have confidence in them that they'll be able to go up and figure something out should we not be able to do that, but the importance of it is, it's a matter of time," Sullivan said. "We're already there. We're trained. We have the equipment to do that rescue, so it's important for our guys to get that person down in less than four minutes. That way we can start CPR."
Sullivan said Riviera employees have never had to rescue a co-worker from a bucket or pole, but everyone goes through the procedure each year.
"This is kind of muscle memory thing," Sullivan said. "This is one of those high-risk types of rescues, so the importance of it is to be familiar with it and comfortable with both climbing a pole and operating the bucket controls, no matter who it is on that crew."
He said all Riviera employees also have to be certified in CPR and first aid training every two years.
"That's required for everyone here at Riviera Utilities," he said. "Everyone goes through it. That's not just these guys and girls, it's also the folks in the office."