Dinner salutes safety workers

The county Department of Public Safety thanked those who put their lives on the line to keep the community safe Thursday evening at its 36thannual appreciation dinner.

“All of you play a role in assisting us in public safety,” said John D. Yingling, director of the county department, on the work of the dozens of emergency responders.

“It certainly doesn’t go unnoticed,” said county Commissioner Jeff Wheeland, on the work those men and woman do.

First responders are important to keeping all residents safe in the county. At the dinner they heard first-hand how they’re crucial to the safety of one company’s employees.

“They’re pivotal,” said Tanner Clenney, of Duke Energy. “They’re the first repsonders.”

Duke Energy, which operates Laurel Hill Wind Energy in Jackson and McIntyre townships, has 30 wind turbines to produce energy.

Although they are hundreds of feet in the air while working on the wind turbines, Byron Jessee, of Duke Energy, explained that once employees are able to make it to the ground, it’s up to the first responders to take over.

“Once we get on the ground, we definitely depend on you,” Jessee said.

In order to make sure their employees are as safe as possible, Clenney explained a number of the company’s safety measures.

The company has self-rescue kits, which allows employees on the turbines to get themselves to safety when it would be too dangerous for another employee to go out to them. They have safety harnesses for climbing up the ladder to the top of the turbine and when performing maintenance on them.

Employees also have mobile applications to allow them to learn the weather reports immediately, which Clenney said is especially important when dealing with lightning.

“Anything the National Weather Service may issue, we get that real time,” he said.

But when there is an emergency, Clenney said the response time from the first responders is “outstanding.”

The company also holds drills for first responders on site so they feel more comfortable there. Clenney explained that because of the structures and remoteness of the sites, it’s not a situation many first responders are used to. He said to hold drills with field technicians and first responders is important to having a smooth operation.

“We don’t want to make sure you guys don’t come up to one of our sites and not know what to do,” Clenney said.