By Jerri Imgarten, The Victory Electric Cooperative Assn., Inc.

This article is part of a series highlighting winning Spotlight on Excellence entries. We hope to capture the spirit of an entry and inspire others to submit their work in the Spotlight on Excellence Award contest.

Seconds count when a life is at risk due to an electrical emergency. Mountain View Electric Association, a 54,000-meter cooperative based in Colorado, knows they can’t predict when it is going to happen, so they created a Spotlight on Excellence award-winning safety program for first responders to help them understand the critical steps required to save a life.

Last May, in honor of National Electrical Safety Month, Mountain View Electric Association, Inc. (MVEA) took electrical safety awareness and community engagement to a dramatic new level with the first annual Live Wires and First Responders training event. The event was designed to help first responders: provide safe electricity guidance to citizens, establish a secure circle of safety when a power line is down, communicate and coordinate with MVEA, and to become familiar with MVEA’s electrical safety programs and resources.

“The idea for an interactive training came from the MVEA Safety Team in response to an accident that involved a vehicle hitting a MVEA power pole,” said Sarah Schaefer, communications supervisor at MVEA. “The driver was advised by emergency responders to get out of the car before the line was determined safe. In this case, the line was hot and it could have been a deadly situation. As a result, MVEA identified a training opportunity which could enhance awareness and benefit multiple partnering agencies.”

The demonstration was deemed a success with more than 60 trainees in attendance representing 17 entities, as well as several cooperative employees. Even family members and a neighboring cooperative line crews joined in for the exciting day. The event received extensive media coverage and chose to feature MVEA in their fall Connections video newsletter.

“It was a team effort,” Schaefer said. “Members from all departments, operations, engineering, administration, IT and communications worked together to develop this project.”

The hard work of the cooperative and combination of inventive communication methods with safety education earned MVEA a Gold Spotlight on Excellence Award for Best Event.

Schaefer, who earned her CCC in 2012, encourages communicators to keep your neighboring cooperatives in mind when planning events. “We received requests to present the event in another region of our territory, so in our second year of the program, we included a neighboring cooperative and have received inquiries from several other nearby cooperatives to participate in the event next year.”

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