On three separate days during a historic stretch of destructive ice and snowstorms, our crews came to the rescue for those in desperate need of their help.

The latest heroic act was the night of March 3 in Hillsdale County, when a man was administered CPR by crew members in the middle of a rural road during a powerful snowstorm.

Jacob Mietelka, lineworker in charge out of Adrian, was at the scene as snow was steadily falling. Mietelka noticed crew member Matthew Ziegler running toward the back of the bucket truck. Ziegler was responding to a scream he heard to call 911 for help. He saw the driver of a vehicle pull their male passenger into the street to begin CPR.

Mietelka, who is also a volunteer firefighter in Jackson County, and Ziegler took over and took turns giving CPR while they hooked the man up to a defibrillator.

“He was soaking wet from the continuous snowfall, so the AED pads kept slipping off,” said Mietelka adding another journey lineworker Kennan Root grabbed some coats, shirts and other supplies out of the truck to dry off the man to reattach the AED pads as the snowfall intensified.

Minutes passed before first responders and Michigan State Police arrived on the scene to take over and treat the man.

“It was a blur,” said Ziegler. “There were some intense minutes, as the man was in and out and his pulse was up and down.”

Mietelka said the crew didn’t hesitate in helping somebody facing a deadly situation.

“We are part of these communities and want to do our best to serve them and help them in any way we can,” Mietelka said. “It’s why we train – to do our best to help others and the public.”

Before the lineworkers left, the man was able to sit up and breathe on his own and was taken to a local hospital by ambulance.

Crews Helps with Jackson Fire

On Feb. 27, a crew was working to restore power in Jackson when they saw fire trucks arrive at the scene of a home engulfed in flames, said Adrian Kooistra, a lineworker in charge out of Hamilton.

The crew immediately offered assistance. Since there were only two members of the fire department at the scene, a couple of crew members assisted in pulling the fire hose off the truck and helped hook up to the water supply.

“The crew also helped move a small boat in the driveway of the home on fire so the firefighters could have better access,” said Kooistra.

“They didn’t hesitate for a second to help somebody out,” he said. “It’s always remarkable to me how often our crews step up to help whatever situation they are faced with.”

Generator Fire Leads to Crew Response

On Feb. 28, a contracted crew was working for Consumers Energy to restore outages in Osseo after an ice storm crippled much of the area.

After making repairs in several locations, they were given the go ahead to re-energize the area. A foreman and apprentice for the crew, which was brought in from Indiana, jumped in a truck and checked a couple of locations to verify all had been restored, said Bonnie Knopf, Director of Compliance for Arc American, a third party hired by Consumers Energy to help during major storms.

While pulling up to a location, the two crew members noticed heavy smoke and large flames shooting out of a customer’s generator. They quickly reacted – donned their gloves, pulled the generator cord out of the outlet and dragged it away from the house as flames started lapping up the side of the home.

Since there was no longer an electrical hazard, they grabbed a case of water to drown out the flames.

A woman inside the home who had been napping and unaware of the fire allowed the crew members to investigate what happened. They determined she had closed in her main when power was restored, however, she hadn’t isolated the generator before closing it. The grateful woman gave the two men a hug and thanked them for their heroic efforts.

The crew also informed her of the importance of proper generator wiring and procedures for hookup and disconnect. A generator needs to be away from enclosed areas to keep exhaust fumes and carbon monoxide from entering the home.

The incident was submitted to the company’s Good Catch Program, designed to empower employees to catch unsafe activities before somebody gets seriously hurt – either among their fellow employees or the public.

“These men saved this woman’s life by using good, sound judgement in taking extra precautions on the job,” said Knopf. “What better lesson is there for an apprentice on the job early on in his career?”

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