7 Points to Remember for First Responders

Downed Power Lines SafetyWhen first responders show up at the scene of a vehicle accident that has occurred under a power line, their first thought isn’t always to check for a downed line. This could prove to be fatal for both responders and victims. A downed power line can cause an injury or fatality for up to 30 feet around the point of contact depending on various factors.

Here are 7 things you should do if you are the first person to the scene of a vehicle crash that has hit or is under a power line.

  1. Stop at least 30 feet away from the incident and look for any downed power lines or objects that could have been energized and touching the ground. Be sure to check 360 degrees around the incident. If the scene appears clear, proceed with caution to help the victim by first calling 911 to report the accident.
  2. Call 911 to alert authorities that an accident has occurred and that power lines may be involved. They will alert MTEMC to de-energize and remove the line.
  3. Instruct the victim to stay in their vehicle and not move until MTEMC personnel confirm the line is de-energized.
  4. Keep bystanders at least 30 feet away from the scene until power lines are confirmed to be de-energized.
  5. If there is imminent danger and the victim must exit their vehicle, instruct them to jump out of the vehicle without touching the ground and vehicle at the same time.
  6. Instruct them to take heel-toe shuffle steps without letting their feet leave the ground until they are at least 35 feet away. This will minimize the risk of a fatal electrocution.
  7. If the victim is unresponsive and in imminent danger, let the 911 dispatcher know so they can advise you on what to do. Do not rush in to assist until the line is confirmed de-energized. You have a greater chance of causing harm than good even if there is a present danger to the victim.

Every accident has different circumstances. So listen to the dispatcher or other authorities if you encounter a dangerous situation. We hope that you are never in a situation that involves down power lines or vehicular incident, but if you are, try to remember the 7 points above. Your life and those in the immediate area could depend on it.