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First Responder Utility Safety Bulletin: Spring 2016

Vehicle-power pole incidents: Are you prepared to respond?

Utility pole hit by car

The upcoming months of June, July and August have the highest rates of auto accidents and related fatalities. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, collisions with utility poles ranks second only to trees when it comes to crashes with fixed objects.

While the crash itself can be deadly, the moments immediately afterwards can be the most dangerous if the accident involves a downed power line.

Case-in-point: Vehicle rescue goes awry

An EMT and several firefighters responded to an accident involving a car that struck and broke a utility pole. The car lay on its side with an injured passenger pinned inside, just two feet away from power lines that sagged a few feet above the ground.

In an attempt to stabilize the vehicle, rescuers ran a steel winch cable below the sagging power lines and attached it to the car’s luggage rack. A fire chief, a firefighter, an EMT and a bystander were holding the cable when the luggage rack pulled loose; it and the cable contacted the energized lines. The fire chief and bystander were both killed. The firefighter and EMT received severe electrical burns.

Electric module 4

In many communities across the U.S., car accidents are the most frequent emergency that EMTs, firefighters and police respond to. Therefore it’s critical that you understand electrical safety basics as well as specifics regarding the safe response and management of situations involving downed power lines.

Sample screen from e-learning module 4: downed power lines

Train to respond safely to downed line incidents

The National Grid First Responder Utility Safety Training Program is an e-learning program that provides emergency response personnel with a solid understanding of utility hazards. For example, Module 4 of the Electrical Safety Training Certification, entitled Downed Power Lines, addresses response tactics for power lines downed in storms, fires or as a result of vehicle-power pole incidents. Through this training, you will learn how to protect yourself, bystanders and vehicle occupants when a downed line is on or near a vehicle.

Keep yourself, your team and the public safe. Register today and complete your utility safety training. Visit

Smell Gas. Act Fast.


Massachusetts contacts

Gas emergencies:
1-800-233-5325 or 911

Electric emergencies:
1-800-465-1212 or 911


New York contacts

Gas emergencies:
Long Island and the Rockaways:
1-800-490-0045 or 911

Metro NY:
911 or 1-718-643-4050

Upstate NY:
1-800-892-2345 or 911

Electric emergencies:
1-800-867-5222 or 911


Rhode Island contacts

Gas emergencies:
1-800-640-1595 or 911

Electric emergencies:
1-800-465-1212 or 911

National Grid


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