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Duke Energy shows responders a live power line demo

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The smell of burnt hot dog filled the air Thursday morning, but it wasn’t from a barbecue. It was a demonstration by Duke Energy linemen and trainers on how outages occur and what happens when a person or object touches a live power line.

The live-line demonstration was held outside the Rowan County Emergency Services building before a number of EMS and rescue squad personnel, firefighters and other first responders as a way to let them see what happens to an object after 11,000 volts of electricity run through it.

Responders from Rowan, Cabarrus, Iredell and Stanly counties were on hand.

Duke Energy provided a trailer with transformers and utility lines that were used to give participants an idea of the effect of that much power. Linemen touched a hot dog, metal ladder, tree limb, metal toy truck, a kite string, a mylar balloon, rubber boots and rubber gloves to a power line. Each object gave off a spark, zap or burst into flames seconds after the connection was made.

Duke personnel explained how even a thumb-tack-size hole in rubber gloves could result in a dangerous situation.

Locke Fire Chief Rusty Alexander said the demonstration was helpful for firefighters to see up close what happens to different objects that conduct electricity.

Concord Fire Engineer Nick Brazee said he found the demonstration informative. He’s had some training along these lines, but not as in depth.

Brazee said the demonstration was a reminder for firefighters to check their own equipment.

“That was impressive. It was also scary, because you can see what can happen if you come in contact with it and rubber boots is what you think would be safe, rubber gloves. It just shows how dangerous electricity is,” said Concord Fire Capt. Robbie Boyd.

Rowan County Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason said exposing first responders to this type of training is invaluable, “so that hopefully moving forward they will remember to be better prepared and better aware so if they are faced with some type of situation like that then they can better protect not only themselves but the public around them too.”

Thomason said the simulation is as close to real as possible. He said responders could see and hear the effects instead of just reading about them during emergency training.

Randy Welch of Duke Energy said the utility had been trying to get the simulation to the area for some time.

Welch said the demonstration reinforces the potential dangers with electricity.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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