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Behind the scenes: 2 unspoken lessons from the field

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​by Jen Neville

As I pulled out of the Rocky Mountain Regional Office parking lot at 5:30 a.m., I ran through my mental checklist: hardhat, directions, sunscreen, water, camera and iPad. Equipped for the drive with good music, and prepared to take photos of RM’s electricians during their annual training, I was not ready for what I would learn.

Just a few hours later, I exchange the smooth highway south of Colorado Springs for a two-lane dirt road, passed the Pikes Peak International Raceway and followed the transmission lines to Midway Substation. As I pulled into the yard, the electricians had already started their training for the day, and I felt behind. It’s only 8:30 a.m., and I’m already late!

Two aerial man lifts were moving up and down as participants took turns operating the control panels. All were so focused on their training; I took the opportunity to start snapping a few photos and videos before I connected with Montrose Electrician Foreman II Carl Roland, who had invited me to the event.

You can read all about the electricians’ annual training in a separate article. But I learned a couple things from our electricians just by being around them for a day. Here are two lessons they taught me:

  1. Slow practice means quick reaction. Each element of the annual training was given time; nothing was rushed. Observing this timing, I could tell it was purposeful and focused. By taking the time to do the techniques and procedures slowly, the electricians were etching the practice into memory. If an emergency rescue was ever needed, this methodical training would help an individual respond quickly with the proper procedure.

  2. Waiting is not the same as inaction. In a conversation with an electrician, I heard more detail about a crew’s response to a wildlife situation at a substation. The event meant they had to leave the job they were working on and go rescue the animal. While there, waiting for further authorization from another agency, the crew took the time to fix some small items around the substation. In fact, the crews have detailed lists for all the substations in their region; that’s more than 100 different locations. When they go to a site, they have a list of maintenance items in addition to the mission at hand, so no trip or opportunity to improve is wasted. It makes me question, what maintenance list do I keep for those times when I must wait?

Watching and listening to the experience of our electricians gave me new insight and appreciation our diverse roles and talents that come together to make up Western’s pride and professionalism.


Several of Western’s Rocky Mountain electricians met at Midway Substation, June 1-5, for their annual safety training to prepare them to respond in emergency situations.

See more photos on
Western's Flickr channel.

Page Last Updated: 7/13/2015 11:47 AM