The 2022 Good Neighbor award was presented to four linemen from Cuming County Public Power District, at the Nebraska Rural Electric Association’s annual meeting on Dec. 1 in Kearney, Neb. The award was presented to Tristan Bettenhausen, Eric Brabec, Austin Koehlmoos, and Brian Throener.
The Good Neighbor Award program is designed to recognize individuals for outstanding contributions to their electric system, community, or state. Many individuals often go out of their way to do a good deed for someone in their community or provide some exceptional service to the members of his or her community. The Good Neighbor Award program recognizes these people who strive to make a contribution to their community and help others.
This award is presented annually by the association to an individual(s) for the recognition of acts of community service, the saving of a life, disaster relief, or other appropriate acts of service or humanitarianism.
On a recent calm day, these four Cuming County PPD lineman were working on the corner of Highway 9 and Highway 51 which is 11 miles north of West Point, Nebraska. The lineman were changing out breakers when they heard a horrible, ear wrenching sound of two vehicles colliding.
They quickly surveyed what had happened and went to work grabbing fire extinguishers, making a Mayday call over the radio and looking to see who they needed to help the quickest. One of the vehicles, a semi, had turned on its side. The driver was shook-up, but uninjured. One of the linemen assisted in helping this driver get out of the semi and stay calm until help arrived.
The other linemen went to the other vehicle in the accident and saw that it had caught on fire with two people still inside the vehicle. Soon after, the smoke would take over and it would be difficult to see.
The linemen continued to work with fire extinguishers to try to get the fire out. As soon as they would get the fire out, it would reignite. They made a life-saving decision and got the two men out of the SUV. By that time, the fire department and EMT’s were on site. They told the linemen if they had not been there to keep the fire down and help the people from the vehicle, they would not be alive today.
Many times, these acts of kindness and bravery go unnoticed. These brave linemen put their lives on the line every day with the dangerous day-to-day work they do, but so many times they put their lives on the line to help other people in need too. Thankfully they were in the right place at the right time when this accident occurred, and they put their safety training into action.