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​By Philip Reed

It should have been a routine day in the field. Several trees had grown too close to the conductors on the Snowy Range-toHappy Jack 115-kilovolt transmission line northwest of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Lineman Tony Gieser and Realty Specialist Barbara O’Rourke set out Dec. 17 to discuss their removal with a resident named Lyn.

They arrived at around 11 a.m. and phoned Lyn to let her know they had arrived. Thanks to a recent storm and subsequent winds, there was a large amount of snow built up around her house.

“The front door of the home was not accessible,” said O’Rourke. “When I spoke to Lyn on the phone, she said to meet her at the garage door.” 

As she and Gieser stepped out of the truck, they saw Lyn appear from inside the garage. No sooner did she step outside than she slipped, fell and shouted in pain.

“I had put some ice melt down, but it melted and then froze,” explained Lyn. “I hit very hard on my back and broke my wrist.”

Gieser and O’Rourke moved quickly to help her.

“She was in pain so we wrapped her coat around her and gave her a few minutes,” O’Rourke said. “With the cold, though, we couldn’t leave her there long. Tony helped her to her feet and we walked her inside the home.”

“I am older and have several health problems so I was very scared,” Lyn said. “I had no cellphone and no oxygen, and I was not dressed for the cold.”

After getting Lyn inside, Gieser and O’Rourke set about helping as much as possible.

“She needed her oxygen and pills so we retrieved what we could and gave them to her,” said O’Rourke. “Tony got a cool cloth from the bathroom and I wiped down her face and neck trying to calm her. She looked quite frail and we wanted to make sure she was stable before doing anything.”

“I think I was in shock,” Lyn said, “but they reassured me and helped me calm down. All the time talking to me, reassuring me, assisting with walking.” 

Gieser and O’Rourke made sure she could get to the hospital. At her request, they also helped her contact her husband, who was at work.

“When she reached her husband she broke down crying and couldn’t talk,” O’Rourke said. She spoke to Lyn’s husband for her and let him know that Lyn was going to the hospital, and that she would not be alone. 

“At the hospital, Barb stayed with me till my husband came from work,” Lyn said. “If it had not been for the fact that two absolutely great people were here this could have ended in a disaster.”

Throughout the experience, both Gieser and O’Rourke embodied WAPA’s core value to “Do what is right. Do what is safe.” Keeping this core value in mind and putting it into practice didn’t only benefit Lyn. 

“During this process I feel as if I gained a new friendship,” O’Rourke said, referring to Lyn and her husband. “I also learned what a kind and caring person Tony Gieser is, and how impressed I was with his compassion and desire to make sure this injured woman was truly taken care of.”

In early February, when things had calmed down a bit, Lyn wrote a letter of thanks to WAPA. “They are indeed heroes and I so much appreciate their help,” she wrote of Gieser and O’Rourke. “Thank you for having two very wonderful employees.”

“I’m proud to say I work with Tony,” O’Rourke concluded. “I am always impressed with the compassion our employees have. The landowner comes first and the job is second.”

What of the work that brought Gieser and O’Rourke to Lyn’s home in the first place? Crews will visit the property to mitigate the tree issue … when the weather is more cooperative.

Note: Reed is a public affairs specialist.

Last modified on March 7th, 2024