Electrocution rescue should never add another victim

Date Posted
Caleb Kimpel

Every work site needs a plan to help employees be prepared should an emergency situation arise. In a work site where there is a risk of electrical shock, the emergency action plan should consider the appropriate reaction to an electrical shock to make sure the victim gets to help as quickly as possible without endangering the life and health of would-be rescuers.

  1. Approach: Call emergency responders as soon as you can (via 911 unless another method is necessary to ensure speedy response). If a coworker or supervisor who is trained in electrical work is nearby, marshal their assistance immediately. The approach to where a coworker has succumbed to electrical shock should be made cautiously to help ensure the current that incapacitated the victim doesn’t harm you too.
  2. Examine: A quick look at the accident scene will reveal whether the victim remains in contact with whatever shocked him. Avoid any nearby exposed conductors, and don’t touch the victim until the electrical circuits that power the area have been de-energized.
  3. De-Energize:If the only source of power to the victim’s locale is a power cord or extension cord to portable equipment, simply disconnecting it at the power source may be sufficient. However, a trip to the breaker box to open the circuit may be necessary
  4. Insulate: In the event that de-energization is impossible, you may have to remove the victim from a live conductor. While this is never desirable, hazards can be controlled by using something that won’t conduct electricity to move the victim and donning insulating gloves and overshoes before attempting rescue if they are available.
  5. Rescue: Rescues are safest when the power is off and you are standing on insulating material. Don’t ever touch an electrocution victim unless you know the source of electricity that incapacitated them is powered down. If there is a risk of a neck injury or similar contingency, do not move the victim at all. Make sure the victim’s airways are clear of obstruction, check for breathing and a pulse and provide CPR if necessary (provided you have been CPR trained). You will want to share as much important information with first responders as possible when they arrive: Voltage, location of contact, etc.

Remember: Never try to provide first aid beyond your level of training,
and stay with the victim until help arrives.

Rescuing an electrocution victim at elevation or in the presence of high voltages is likely to require specialized training and tools to do safely. Don’t attempt any rescue if you are not confident you can do so safely. Working safely around electricity demands good planning and careful judgement. When you use smart rescue techniques in an emergency, the person whose life you save is you.

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