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Hydro employees take to the water for training

by on February 19, 2013
Hydro employees from Appalachian Power Company’s  Kanawha Valley region recently piloted an in-water training program at the South Charleston Community Center in Charleston, W.Va.

(Story by Cynthia G. Miller)

CHARLESTON — A group of hydro employees found themselves hanging around the deep end of a swimming pool recently; however, it was not the relaxing, sun-filled kind of day one might envision. Instead, this group of 21, fully dressed in work clothing, participated in a new three-hour course on staying safe in case they ever end up in the water unintentionally.

The in-water portion of the class teaches self-rescue and proper floating techniques to conserve energy and preserve heat in cold water conditions. The class instruction covers helping someone else in danger, including hands-on practice to gain experience tossing a life ring and performing a two-man water rescue.

“The best time to learn how to toss a life ring or back float in a life jacket is in training, prior to an emergency situation,” said Mike Lawson, learning development consultant, generation fleet operations in Roanoke. “We all learned how to improve our chances of survival should an accident occur, as there are both swimmers and non-swimmers working in the plants.”

There are considerations for safety built into hydro operations already. The boat barriers, log booms and fisherman’s warning sirens are a few examples of systems designed to alert people of potential water hazards near the dams. Additionally, where there is danger of falling in the water, areas are equipped with life rings and employees are required to wear personal flotation devices.

The course was designed by AEP River Operations and has been added to its 14-day new hire training. All River Operations deck crews and maintenance crew mates will also receive the training. Five River Operations employees are leading the classes for everyone.

“Prevention is the key. River Operations goes to great lengths to prevent all of their teammates from falling in the water, but if it occurs, we want to provide a plan for survival. This training accomplishes that,” said Gary Johnson, one of the instructors and safety and health coordinator, River Operations. “At first, there was some apprehension and reluctance toward the swimming portion, but afterwards I think everyone agrees it is worthwhile training.”

Employees from London, Marmet, Winfield and Racine hydro facilities successfully completed the pilot session conducted in Charleston. By the end of the year, classes will expand to all 17 hydro plants within the Appalachian Power, Ohio Power, and Indiana Michigan Power service territories.

From → Safety

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