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Posted 6/14/2018

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By Lee Roberts
Nashville District Public Affairs

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (June 14, 2018) – Instructors dangled a training dummy deep inside the Old Hickory Dam Hydropower Plant today making it possible for 19 employees to get smart on safety procedures and emergency rescue operations in confined spaces.

Participants in the Confined Space and Confined Space Rescue Course took turns extracting a simulated victim, a newly purchased training dummy, from an area housing a sump pump with single-point entry and where the potential for hazardous conditions exist.  They assessed the situation, practiced retrieving and immobilizing the dummy with a cable and winch system, and rehearsed an evacuation.

Blake York, class instructor and electrician at Barkley Dam Hydropower Plant in Kuttawa, Ky., said the instruction equips employees with skills to work safely in a confined space.  But in the unlikely event someone gets into trouble, the training also covers how to properly perform a non-entry rescue, he said.

“In a confined space you want to get them out quick because it’s probably going to be a hazardous atmosphere,” York said. “You don’t want to leave someone in an oxygen-deficient space very long. Getting in-house people trained is a plus and it will save us time when time is of the essence.”

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District leadership routinely emphasizes the importance of “taking care of people,” and has been focusing needed resources for train-the-trainer courses that made it possible to provide in-house training for employees who work in confined spaces.

“The Corps has done a lot in the last few years to get us all of the rescue equipment and fall protection necessary to where if you are the one in the hole, you want to know that you are coming out at the end of the day, and you’ll get to see your family again,” York said.  “It’s comforting to know you work for an organization that will support you.”

The 19 employees that took the training consisted of power plant workers and trainees in the Nashville District Hydropower Training Program. All will potentially be working in confined spaces.

Greg Forte, senior mechanic of the Old Hickory Power Plant, said the training helped him to understand the policies, procedures, and getting acquainted with the equipment used in a rescue. He said it is also valuable to have trainers who are familiar with the hydropower mission.

“They are used to working in the same environments most of us are familiar with,” Forte said.  “It’s much better than having someone from the outside that hasn’t even been in one of your confined spaces before in a scenario that is similar to ours.  We’re so unique; having our own trainers is definitely very helpful.”

The eight-hour class ensures all employees that work in confined spaces understand the potential hazards and are provided with the necessary skills, work practices, and understanding of safety procedures for safe entry into confined spaces.

Cecil Chesnut, journeyman mechanic at Old Hickory Dam, covered the local confined space policy during a classroom portion of the training.  He said he familiarized everyone on the location of confined spaces, made sure they understood how to identify confined spaces, described ventilation techniques and dangers of hazardous atmospheres, explained how to monitor oxygen levels, detailed proper selection and use of personal protective equipment, and covered established rescue plans.

“This is good training for them to have that understanding of what they are going to be experiencing when working in confined spaces,” Chesnut said.

A total of 32 employees completed an extensive Confined Space Rescue Train the Trainer class in March 2017.  York took that training, which prepared him to explain, show, and teach others the potential hazards of confined spaces.

James Sowell, who runs the Operations Division’s Safety Program, said having in-house trainers such as York makes it possible to get employees trained to respond during emergencies, which means quicker response times.

“With our employees who have been taught to train others, our non-trained employees receive their confined space training much sooner,” Sowell said.  “We are also able to provide quicker response times since our employees are already onsite and this increases our chances of saving lives.”

Sowell estimates more than 200 employees will benefit from the confined space training, which falls in line with fall protection training requirements.

(For more news, updates and information please follow the Nashville District on the public web at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)

Blake York Cecil Chesnut Confined Space Rescue Training Confined Space Training Confined Spaces Corps of Engineers Greg Forte James Sowell Nashville District Old Hickory Dam Old Hickory Hydropower Plant rescue training safety USACE