Power lines nothing to mess around with
It’s likely everyone has been told not to mess around with power lines, but it’s something Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative (CVEC) wants to reinforce. That’s why they built a mobile hot wire simulator unit, which is used to educate the public on the dangers associated with power lines.
Linemen from CVEC were on hand at the Cadott Fire Department building Jan. 13, instructing first responders what to do in the event of wires down around an accident scene. Lineman Terry Chapek said firefighters should assess the situation if a car comes in contact with a power line pole.
“I know you guys all show up on vehicle accidents and sometimes, they (car) hit a pole,” said Chapek, “there could be wires down on the vehicle, wires down adjacent to the vehicle or even just above the ground and stuff like that. What everybody wants to do is help.”
However, Chapek asked responders to take a moment to contact the power company and see if the wires are live, as well as urging passerby and occupants of the crash to remain in the vehicle until the all-clear is given. With a firefighter recently losing his life at the scene of a car in a ditch with live wires around, Cadott Fire Chief Rick Sommerfeld says the training is important to have every so often.
“It’s definitely good training for the newer members,” said Sommerfeld.
At least three departments were represented at the demonstration, which didn’t stop at just vehicle crashes. Chapek says there are times lines are down, when people think if they don’t touch metal to the lines, they’ll be alright.
“A lot of people think you can just grab a board, a dry stick…and you think you can move that (line) away,” said Chapek. “There’s possibly enough current flowing through that dead branch to stop your heart.”
Chapek also said people have to be cautious when power is out from a storm or some other reason, as they will fire up a generator, but, without a decent transfer switch to separate their lines from others’, it can be bad. The energized lines can backfeed through the transformer and endanger linemen out working on the problem.
“It’s good training to be aware of the hazards,” said Sommerfeld.