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Rocky Mountain Power and Rescue Crews Run First Confined Space Exercise

Bob Nelson

Rocky Mountain Power and various rescue crews in the Salt Lake Valley are running three coordinated rescue exercises this week. Monday’s exercise was the first in the series with a mock victim trapped below an industrial power supply box in a Salt Lake City industrial park.

The South Jordan Heavy Rescue team checks the air for hazards while a rescuer shouts his next move through the gas mask. A confined space rescue can pose a number of risks for both power company linemen and fire fighters who would be called if a contractor gets hurt working underground with live power. Bret Rich is the operational and safety manager for Rocky Mountain Power. He says there are untold benefits from an operation like this, even if it is just a training dummy in the vault up to his knees in water.

“We continue to development our written confined space program and that we take it to another level. And I think that’s what we’re both looking at with the groups here, we’re able to do that,” says Ryan.

Credit Bob Nelson
Bret Rich (left) of Rocky Mountain Power and Cpt. Ryan Mellor of Salt Lake City Fire Department go over plans before crews arrive for rescue drill.

Captain Ryan Mellor with Salt Lake City Fire is also the Training Manager with Utah Task Force One. He says he is thrilled by this learning opportunity because his department has been trying to plan a similar exercise.

“Anytime we do something like this there’ll be what we call a hot wash. Which is, we’ll get back and we’ll talk about, and very frankly with each other, what went right and what went wrong" says Mellor. "What can we do better the next time? Is there something that we saw that was especially right that we want to maybe incorporate as a standard thing that we do?”

Mellor says it’s always better to work out rescue details ahead of time rather than in the heat of a real rescue. He says this type of operation also helps the power company meet the federal requirements for response.

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