Cuivre River Electric Cooperative (CREC) will begin offering a training course to local first responders on electrical hazards that can occur when vehicles strike poles of overhead power lines. Fire, law enforcement and ambulance departments/districts within the cooperative’s service area may request the 1 ½ hour program, which can be tailored to fit most training schedules.

The course will cover topics such as keeping a safe distances from downed power lines, substation fires; the hazards of pulling meters at commercial or home fires; how to distinguish between equipment of different electric utilities; and how to work closely with the electric utility when approaching a transformer or substation fire. 

“Over the years, this kind of training has been presented to many area first responders,” says CREC Safety Coordinator Doug Bagby. “A refresher course, free of charge, will now be offered.”

The decision to provide the refresher program comes on the heels of a recent incident in New Melle, Mo. A vehicle struck a CREC utility pole, causing it to fall and result in wires that sagged dangerously close to the vehicle. CREC was contacted and upon arriving at the scene, linemen Doug Nadler and Chris Molitor noted that New Melle fire fighters and area law enforcement were keeping the vehicle occupants calm and coaching them to stay inside. 

Nadler and Molitor quickly accessed the situation and made the scene safe from electrical current. At that point, the occupants were able to safely exit the vehicle without the danger of completing the path of electricity to the ground.

During the process of de-energizing the sagging lines, the first responders witnessed a 3-4 foot long arc of electricity drawn as the jumper was pulled away from the source. “This confirmed to the first responders what they knew about electrical current,” Bagby said, “that it is always seeking the easiest path to a grounding point.” 

Area fire, law enforcement and ambulance departments/districts interested in this refresher program for their crews may contact Bagby at 636-695-4868 or