At Western Cooperative, safety is one of our top priorities. When our crews are doing line work, it is not uncommon for them to be miles away from first responders. If an emergency were to arise, it is vital crew members have the training to safely lower the injured person down to the ground, begin first aid care, and wait for emergency crews to arrive.
As part of their annual safety training, linemen go through pole-top and bucket rescue drills. To maintain safety certification, every lineman in the company must don climbing and safety gear, climb the pole, secure a rope around the "injured man," and lower him to the ground.
Should an accident occur, the first step is to call 911 or radio in a "mayday" to the office in the case of no cell service. Member Service Representatives (MSRs) monitor radio traffic and keep tabs on linemen performing "hotwork" with live power lines. If a lineman ever radios a mayday call for help, the MSRs are responsible for directing emergency services to the location of the injured lineman.
"In addition to the linemen performing a pole-top rescue, this year we tried to incorporate all the employees into our emergency drills," said Safety Manager Jay Scott. "By involving the MSRs and having them go through their steps of calling for EMS, we know in a real-life emergency help will be on the way as quickly as possible."
When starting a rescue operation from an electrical pole, there are additional factors linemen must consider. Before starting the rescue recovery, they must ensure neither the victim nor the pole is energized. After lowering the injured person to the ground, crew members will perform first aid until first responders arrive on location.
"In an emergency, the most important thing is to remain calm and take the proper steps. Following safety procedures ensures no one else gets harmed during a rescue operation," said Scott.
Being prepared for the worst-case scenarios is something all Western Co-op employees take seriously. Working with high voltage makes linework inherently dangerous. Relying on the quick thinking of your co-workers could mean the difference between life and death.
Although annual pole-top and bucket rescue are only a small part of the safety program, they are vital. Through annual training, crew linemen give themselves the best opportunity to act as first responders and possibly save their co-workers' lives.