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‘I Was Beyond Dehydrated’: Lineman Helped from Extreme Heat

by on July 31, 2018
Thanks to concern for his partner and quick action, Zac Caron (left) helped Dustin Reyna out of a potentially dangerous situation involving heat illness.

(Story by Scott Fuller)

The first week of July brought searing heat and several strong storms to Columbus, Ohio. Line Mechanic-C Zac Caron and Line Mechanic-D Dustin Reyna were among the crews working quickly to repair damage and restore power to thousands of customers.

Caron and Reyna climbed two poles in quick succession and, 20 feet in the air, Caron looked over at his partner and knew something was wrong. Caron has been with AEP Ohio for four years and is accustomed to working in hot weather; his partner was not.

“I kept asking Dustin, ‘Are you all right? Are you all right?’ I could tell he wasn’t comprehending what I was saying. He just couldn’t put it together,” Caron said.

Reyna was not all right. He was pale. An indoor electrician before joining the company in January, he hadn’t experienced extreme summertime heat and wasn’t prepared.

“This was the first time I had felt like that. I used to play sports and stuff so I thought I’d be fine,” Reyna said. “But Zac noticed it pretty quick. My muscles started to cramp up and my legs felt like Jell-O. I was beyond dehydrated.”

Caron knows the signs of heat illness and he grew increasingly firm in urging Reyna to climb down. Reyna was reluctant but, when he struggled to lift 20-pound equipment he normally handles with ease, Reyna finally agreed. He shifted into the shade, drank plenty of water and very slowly made his descent. The trip down the pole – normally accomplished in a minute or two – took close to 20. Caron went above and beyond to continually check on the well-being of his partner and communicate what was going on to crew members below so precautions could be taken … all while continuing to make repairs.

It’s been a learning experience for Reyna, and he knows the result could have been worse.

“A good warning sign is someone telling you that you don’t look right. If that happens, don’t try to be a macho man. There’s a time and a place for that but it’s better to be safe,” Reyna said. “We all could do a better job of policing each other. I’m definitely taking that responsibility a lot more seriously now.”

From → Safety

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