2016-07-27 / Front Page

BPW crew revives co-worker who was ‘shocked to death’ at work site

By TIM GULLA
Ledger Staff Writer


By all accounts, according to interviews with several officials, Austin Williams stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating when he was shocked by a 240-volt electrical line while doing work Monday morning on Curry Street in Gaffney. By all accounts, according to interviews with several officials, Austin Williams stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating when he was shocked by a 240-volt electrical line while doing work Monday morning on Curry Street in Gaffney. An investment by the Gaffney Board of Public Works in safety equipment and employee training paid perhaps the biggest dividend possible Monday when a lineman’s life was saved by his quick-thinking co-workers.

By all accounts, according to interviews with several officials, Austin Williams stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating when he was shocked by a 240- volt electrical line while doing work Monday morning on Curry Street in Gaffney.

Williams was up in a bucket when the incident occurred. His co-workers immediately got him to the ground, started CPR and then attached Williams to an automatic external defibrillator (AED), which reportedly applied a shock to get Williams’ heart beating again. Williams’ co-workers had him breathing before fast-responding emergency officials arrived.


BPW employee Austin Williams is rushed to a waiting Regional One helicopter. Williams was airlifted from a work site near Gaffney Middle School after being shocked by a 240-volt power line. 
(Ledger photos / TIM GULLA) BPW employee Austin Williams is rushed to a waiting Regional One helicopter. Williams was airlifted from a work site near Gaffney Middle School after being shocked by a 240-volt power line. (Ledger photos / TIM GULLA) “They did a wonderful job,” Gaffney Fire Chief Jamie Caggiano said of the lifesaving efforts. “If they didn’t have that equipment on hand there possibly would have been a different outcome.”

While Williams was alert and talking with paramedics and firefighters, a decision was made to fly him by emergency helicopter to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. The helicopter landed at nearby Gaffney Middle School.

“He’s doing well,” Donnie Hardin, general manager of the Gaffney BPW, was glad to report Tuesday. Williams had been kept overnight at the hospital but Hardin said there was a possibility he would be released Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m proud of the men who were there,” offered Hardin, who had immediately come to the scene of the accident and who later went to the hospital to check on his lineman. “They used the training and equipment they had to make a difference. I’m very proud of the way they acted.”

Hardin said the BPW obtained its first AEDs about five years ago. The first models were carried on just a few trucks but Hardin said a decision was made three years ago to place the life-saving devices on all BPW trucks. The AED model the BPW purchased is the same as used by local First Responders.

“I wanted to let you know that your progressive thinking in purchasing AEDs for all your trucks had a big part in saving one of your employee’s life yesterday,” Caggiano wrote in a letter Tuesday to Hardin and the BPW’s board of commissioners.

“The crew that was on the scene of the electrocution yesterday (Monday) was very professional and very well trained. Those guys provided a quick response in getting the employee down from the bucket, starting CPR, and placing the AED on the employee and letting it do the work. Due to their quick thinking, training, aggressive CPR, and using the AED, in my opinion, changed the outcome of the accident.”

The cause of the accident remained unknown although Hardin said it was believed the sleeve of Williams’ long sleeve shirt, likely wet from sweat on the very hot and humid day, came into contact with electrical line and completed a circuit.

Hardin said the BPW would be honoring the linemen involved in the emergency response in the near future.

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