Employee saves wife's life, credits Basin Electric safety training experience

Safety is a top priority at Basin Electric. One way the cooperative promotes safety is by providing training to its employees, such as the first aid, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and AED (automated external defibrillator) training courses through the National Safety Council.

The skills learned during these trainings keep employees safe while at work, but the value of learning these critical skills goes beyond the workplace. One employee knows this firsthand because of a choking incident that happened with one of his family members while at home. Jason Halvorsen, mechanic operator-journeyman for Basin Electric’s Transmission System Maintenance (TSM) division based out of Wheatland, Wyoming, recently used his safety skills when his wife began choking one evening. He credits his years of safety training with helping him react, which likely saved his wife’s life.

Ironically, the incident happened the same day Halvorsen participated in his first aid, CPR, and AED training for work, so the steps were fresh in his mind. “I had been out of town for work the previous eight days and on my first day back, I went in for the training at work. When I got home later, my wife asked me to grill up steaks,” Halvorsen says.

During dinner, his wife started choking. When Halvorsen realized she was struggling, he wasted no time leaping into action to perform the Heimlich maneuver. He was successfully able to get enough of her airway unblocked that his wife was able to breathe. They still rushed to the hospital in order to get the object completely removed.

“My wife and I were discussing it afterwards and she asked how I could be so calm during the whole thing. I told her for me, it goes back to when I did the mine rescue training,” Halvorsen says.

Jason Halvorsen, Basin Electric mechanic operator-journeyman, and his wife.

Before joining the cooperative, Halvorsen worked in a coal mine and was part of the mine rescue team there. To serve on the team, he was certified in Basic Emergency Care (one step below an Emergency Medical Technician, or EMT, certification), which required frequent training. Now, as an employee at Basin Electric, he keeps up on his required trainings for TSM and serves on TSM’s safety committee.

Halvorsen feels passionate about encouraging people to get certified in first aid, CPR, and AED training. The experience with his wife even prompted him to register his 15-year-old and 18-year-old sons for a class.

“I may have more training than a lot of people, but I think these are skills everyone should have,” Halvorsen says. “Even if you only do the training every couple years, it gets you more used to it so you’ll know what to do if the situation arises. The more you practice and the more you see it, the better you’ll be able to react.”

Halvorsen’s experience proves the importance of learning these safety skills and shows that whether these skills are used at work or in one’s personal life, they can make all the difference.

“This kind of training is something you hope you never have to use, but if a situation arises, you’ll be thankful you have it,” Halvorsen says.

Curtis Fletcher, Basin Electric journeyman
communication technician, practices the hands-on
practical requirements of CPR as a training
class in Wheatland, Wyoming.

Safety training at TSM

Basin Electric Headquarters, each power plant, and the Transmission Systems Maintenance (TSM) division are members of the National Safety Council and the local and state safety councils.

Scott Agnew, training coordinator for Basin Electric’s TSM division, teaches the National Safety Council version of first aid, CPR, and AED training. The course is required of all TSM employees every two years, along with defensive driving training.

“Due to the remote nature of our work and the incredible number of hours our division spends driving, both types of training are mandatory and invaluable,” Agnew says.

As part of the first aid course, they cover choking and discuss both what you should and shouldn’t do.

“I regularly hear stories during this training where an employee either was given the Heimlich maneuver, or had to perform it on someone else. It is a simple skill everyone should learn,” Agnew says. “I am glad Jason was able to use his training in this instance.”

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