NWPPA Recognizes Three with the 2021 NWPPA Safety Heroism Award

(April 27) Northwest Public Power Association and its Engineering & Operations Conference Planning Committee have selected one team and two individuals for the association’s 2021 Safety Heroism Award.

Grant County PUD’s Wanapum Dam Emergency Response Team

On November 13, 2020, the actions of the Wanapum Dam Emergency Response Team were instrumental in safely responding to an incident with a capsized boat at Wanapum Dam and saving the lives of two contractors. A rescue boat staffed by the contractors was deployed in support of contractor maintenance on spill gate monitoring devices. The boat suffered engine problems, resulting in a loss of control in the tailrace and the boat overturned in the resulting backflow. One contractor was able to get on top of the overturned rescue boat, but the other contractor was adrift in the Columbia River a short distance away. Acting as a team, the Wanapum Dam Power Plant operators, trained boat crew, and responders on shore worked together to coordinate the rescue effort. The team being honored with this award include David Burk, Jeremy Coleman, Steve Gilliland, Brian Saunders, Roy Bensch, Mark Riggs, Bill Nicols, Mike Allen, Travis Havens, Willie Stone, and Ty Mertes.

Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative’s Dave Peterson

Engineering Manager Dave Peterson was snowmobiling with friends in a remote area in Idaho when another snowmobiler began experiencing a heart attack. A call was made to 911, who dispatched a helicopter for emergency evacuation. Once the helicopter arrived, Peterson led the nurses to the victim’s location. He then loaded the victim onto his snowmobile, took the person to the helicopter, and helped the crew get the victim loaded onto the helicopter. The snowmobiler survived following heart stint surgery. The first aid training Peterson had received over his 35-year cooperative career helped him know what to do to aid the victim while waiting for help to arrive.

Energy Northwest’s Levi Dunlap

On July 10, 2020, Levi Dunlap, an Energy Northwest electrician, was having lunch in a break room with his fellow electrical maintenance workers. The team was having a laugh about football when the situation turned serious. One of Dunlap’ps teammates turned around with a look of distress on his face. Dunlap immediately recognized his coworker was choking and unable to breathe and sprung to action to help. He quickly got into position to administer the Heimlich maneuver, and directed another coworker to call for help. Dunlap’s quick actions successfully dislodged the food from his coworker’s throat.

The Safety Heroism Award recognizes an NWPPA member utility employee or team that displayed an act of unselfish and voluntary assistance in a situation where life, significant injury, or significant property loss would have been incurred were it not for the efforts of the individual or team. The NWPPA E&O Safety Subcommittee selects the winner of the annual Safety Heroism Award with concurrence from the NWPPA E&O Policy Committee.


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