On being responsible

No two days are alike. Sure, there are days that are similar in nature, office work, filing, FCC compliance, etc.  However, there is always something different, some new problem, person, fault, error, client, site or situation to deal with.  It helps to be well versed.

So, when the tower climbers started climbing a 1,000 foot (304 meter) tall tower to find a damaged section of transmission line, I thought; Just a routine day.

Even when they encountered a hornet’s nest at 50 feet (15 meters) AGL, still, fairly routine:

Tower climber applying bee spray to paper wasp nest
Tower climber applying bee spray to paper wasp nest

Tower climber A received a nasty bee sting to his left arm. He climbed part way down the tower and is in the lower part of the picture hugging the tower face. Tower climber B moved up and killed the nest with Wasp and Bee killer.  All is well and work resumes, right?  Except, no.  Tower climber A is apparently allergic to bees.  He states he is not feeling well and his arm begins to swell up.  He comes down the tower and I start looking for Benadryl.

Now, we have a problem.  This is a mountain top tower site, there is a long dirt road with a locked gate at the bottom of the hill.  There is almost no way an ambulance will be able to find its way up here.  The tower climber says the he has not been stung in many years.  I also notice his face is beginning to swell up.  Right, so lock the door, in the truck and get to the bottom of the hill as fast as possible.  It took about five minutes, but at the bottom of the hill, we were in a much better position if things got worse and an ambulance needed to be called.  Fortunately, his condition was the same, so we drove to an urgent care facility were he was treated.

Benadryl, something else to add to the go bag.

Always keep ahead of the situation.  Even if we drove to the bottom of the hill and his symptoms completely disappeared, it still would have been the right decision.

The first aid kit

One of the things that was drilled into my head when in the military was first aid, which we were all required to learn. Those of us that worked around high voltages were also required to know CPR, including passing the American Red Cross CPR course.  I have used CPR on three separate occasions, none of the victims lived to tell about it.  I have been told by my wife’s cousin, who is an ER doctor, that that result is fairly typical, especially in older persons with heart conditions, which in two instances was the case.

I have always carried a standard first aid kit in my truck.  Things like band aids, gauze pads, sterile water, Hydrogen Peroxide, medical tape, splints, antimicrobial cream, blankets, etc.  Nothing hugely complicated, something like this unit.  I have used it recently at accident scenes, which I tend to stop for if it looks like they need help.

Philips Heartstart onsite AED
Philips Heartstart onsite AED

To complete this, I have also purchased an AED.  As one medic once said, if a heart gets shocked out of sinus rhythm, it can be easily shocked back into sinus rhythm provided it is done quickly.  Working on high voltage power supplies always entails some risk, even when all safety procedures are followed.  As little as 60 mA can cause arrhythmia.  Dry skin has a resistance of about 300 ohms, which means that 180 VDC is the threshold for fatal shocks.  This value is much lower if the skin is wet. Any shock received through either hand is likely to travel through the chest and can effect the heart.  Many of the transmitter sites we service are remote, medical help may be 30-60 minutes away under good conditions.  Having an AED on hand is just a little bit of extra insurance, that will hopefully never have to be used.

CPR procedures have been updated in the last few years, if one has not recently reviewed them, it might be worth while to take a refresher course.  I will say, hands only CPR is an improvement not only because it is more effective, but also because most heart attack victims vomit and loose control of their bowls.  Reduced contact with someone else’s stomach contents is always welcome.  This AED came with a training video CD.  While AED’s are designed to be intuitive, having training on their use is always a good idea.  The Red Cross also gives classes that include the use of an AED with hands only CPR.