October 2010

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Safety Training Kicks in During Life-or-Death Moment

Quick thinking and past CPR training enabled a Texas IBEW leader to help save the life of a co-worker suffering a heart attack.

On April 17, Amarillo Local 1146 Business Manager/President Andy Bailey was working in his office at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co.'s car repair station when he heard concerning sounds coming from the next-door office of Mike Hardy.

"I could hear Mike talking with a woman on the cleaning staff about feeling indigestion and chest pains," Bailey said. "A few minutes later, I heard a thud and the woman started screaming." Hardy had passed out, hit his head against his desk and was bleeding from a gash near his nose.

With calm and precision, Bailey sprang into action. After dialing 911, he directed BNSF employees Ismael Urias to go meet the ambulance at the gate, Shannon Vineyard to talk to the 911 operator while Mike Trask teamed up with Bailey giving chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Hardy, who had stopped breathing and had no detectable pulse.

Five minutes later, a police officer arrived on the scene and used a defibrillator on Hardy. Another round of CPR followed before paramedics arrived to take him to the hospital, where he immediately underwent quadruple bypass surgery.

After several months of convalescing, Hardy is back on the job and grateful for his co-workers' quick efforts.

"As far as I'm concerned, they saved my life," Hardy said. "Andy and the other guys—I'm grateful for them every day. They're all good friends of mine now. I was very lucky."

BNSF has stepped up its safety training in the wake of the emergency. Management has offered employees more CPR classes—which are garnering record turnout—and purchased an on-site defibrillator.

Bailey said that's a welcome development. His last CPR training was when he managed a swimming pool facility in 1989, and Hardy's heart attack served as a wake-up call for Bailey and others to shore up their skills.

"I never took a CPR refresher class until after Mike's heart attack," Bailey said. "Training was out there, but I never felt that I really needed a refresher class since I was no longer in a field of high risk. Boy, was I wrong. Mike's heart attack opened our eyes on how important it is to be ready."

Bailey and the other lifesavers were honored at a company event where they were presented with certificates of thanks.

"It was nice for BNSF to do that—but our best sense of satisfaction is seeing Mike alive, well and on the job again," Bailey said. "He's back to his old self."

Hardy, Trask, Vineyard and Urias are members of the Brotherhood Railway Carmen division of the Transportation Communications International Union.

Amarillo, Texas, Local 1146 Business Manager Andy Bailey, second from the left, and his colleagues, from left, Mike Trask, Shannon Vineyard and Ismael Urias, helped save a co-worker's life.

Photo courtesy of BNSF Railway.

Solidarity in Action: N.J. Members Send Relief to Haiti

For months, Joe Licinski had been on the bench. So the Jersey City, N.J., Local 164 journeyman wireman was doing what all laid-off workers try to do to weather the recession—slim down the family budget, live frugally and hope for a phone call that would send him reaching for his tools.

But when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake ripped through Haiti last January, Licinski played a key role in the local's effort to provide aid—volunteering days of his time to help people suffering from the cataclysmic disaster that claimed thousands of lives and severely damaged or destroyed vital infrastructure.

"Everyone knows that times are tight, but this was the right thing to do to help people going through such a tragedy," he said.

Licinski was not alone. Each Saturday in March, more than 100 members convened with other volunteers from the YMCA, the Rotary Club and a local charitable foundation to organize, box and pack a dozen 40-foot containers full of donated clothes that were shipped to the stricken country. A local business volunteered warehouse space for the sprawling project.

Licinski—who local leaders dubbed the "general foreman" of the project—said that the task conjured an atmosphere similar to a work site for many unemployed members.

"We handled it like any other job, and it went pretty smoothly," Licinski said. "Once people were directed, it worked like clockwork. Members had fun and were happy to help those in need."

The first couple of Saturdays were primarily spent folding and boxing up clothes. But the latter half of the month was when the men and women of Local 164 really stood out, said President John DeBouter. "Being journeymen and mechanics, we were very organized. We put the young, strong apprentices up front and loaded half the crates the first Saturday." Some of the boxes were bundled on pallets, and members used forklifts to place the heavier bundles in the containers.

The giant crates are similar to those hauled by trains and semis and serve a dual purpose for the relief effort. In September, volunteer workers staying in Haiti will cut windows and doors in the containers, which will be converted into temporary shelters for children, many of whom are now orphaned. Each container will have basic electricity with one overhead light. While not ideal long-term housing, the solid metal frames will provide better protection from the elements than the makeshift tents and plastic tarps that many Haitians have been living under for months.

DeBouter said that volunteerism is key to the local's culture. Members have wired area cabins for Boy Scout groups, helped senior citizens with home renovations, and logged time on Habitat for Humanity projects.

"We get charged up about things like this," DeBouter said. "The whole philosophy is that we feel fortunate for the trade we have, and we want to instill that in the younger people who join our local. The feeling becomes contagious. Once a new apprentice gets a taste of what the Brotherhood is all about, they come back again and again to help those in need."

After 10 months of unemployment, Licinski is now back on the job completing an upgrade at Hudson Generating Station, a coal-fired plant in Jersey City.

"We've gone through a long period of unemployment and are still having a bit of a dry spell," he said. "But that's why the Haiti project was important. A lot of the volunteers had been out of work for a while, and this was a chance to do something together, something that offers the kind of camaraderie we were missing away from the job site."

Business Manager Richard Dressel, who also volunteered, offered accolades to the members for their efforts.

"It spoke volumes to the community and the recipients in Haiti what Local 164 members and the rest of the IBEW are all about," Dressel said.

More than 100 members of Jersey City, N.J., Local 164 and other community members volunteered to send aid to Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake.

NJATC-Milwaukee Tool Partner for Measurement Device Training

Since 1924, when the company developed the "Hole-Shooter," the first lightweight portable one-handed quarter-inch capacity drill, Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. products have been some of the most trusted in the electrician's pouch.

Last year, the company began manufacturing measuring tools for the electrical industry, devices like clamp meters, digital multimeters and infrared scopes, which can sense when electrical connections are hotter than they should be.

For electricians and for the company, new training in the uses of the devices was needed to continue the trusted relationship between Milwaukee Electric Tool and workers in the field.

In July, the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, the IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association announced a long-term agreement with Milwaukee Electric Tool to train electricians, journeymen and workers in newer classifications in the safe and effective use of measurement devices.

The agreement, announced in July at the National Training Institute's graduation ceremonies in Ann Arbor, Mich., provides for a blended learning test and measurement academy. State-of-the-art simulation and 3-D technology will help electricians learn do's and don'ts before putting themselves in the line of danger on the job.

"The program is modeled after airline pilot training," says Mike Callanan, executive director of the NJATC. Students, he says, will grab their personal protective equipment, assume proper positions to take measurements and simulate work scenarios. "When they make a mistake there may be a ‘boom'," but no one will be hurt," he says.

All training modules will use lifelike animation of Milwaukee test and measurement equipment and include information on product applications, safe work practices, code and standards references, field applications and troubleshooting.

"Milwaukee Electric Tool has established a new standard for companies doing business in the electrical industry," says Callanan. The training, using equipment purchased by the company, will expand business opportunities for contractors and help in upgrade training for journeymen.

"We are extremely proud to partner with the NJATC to develop an educational tool for future generations of apprentices, journeymen and electrical contractors," says Steven Richman, president of Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp.

Recently, the NJATC awarded Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. the 2010 NECA Industry Partner of the Year award.