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Is This a Test?

I was working the afternoon shift as a trouble technician, alone, in Richmond BC. It was towards midnight on a very rainy night when I got a trouble 1 priority call.

Motor Vehicle accident, wires down, and person trapped in the vehicle. Responding quickly, I immediately acknowledged the call on my mobile dispatched laptop program. Opened my circuitry on the screen for the location and called the control center with my wireless headset hands free.

 I chose to approach the scene from the source of the circuit travelling up to the flashing light address I was given. The circuit was normal. The rain was pouring down hard enough to create rivers running down the four-lane street. The police cruiser was parked sideways in the intersection, which seemed odd.

 Stopping and surveying the situation, I saw why. There was a gas station with nobody at the pumps but an attendant sitting in a chair. A car had lost control, hit a steel light standard right beside the gas station. It had pushed the light post, dragging out the wires from the pedestal and then smashed into a gas pump. Apparently, it had brushed the sidewall of the attendant’s cubicle and spun around wildly, tearing off a gas pump. The car came to rest a half block away and the driver was missing. 

Getting out, with my rain gear and headlights on, I noticed the pump was missing. There was a stream of water… or fuel, puddling right where the exposed hot street light base was. It smelled like fuel had spilled, for sure. The person in the cubicle was sitting there with a stone-cold frozen look. I yelled to him but got no response. 

Going over to the cruiser, I knocked on the window. Speaking with the police officer, he said he was waiting for the power to be shut off. “Okay, I’ll see what I can do.” 

Remembering that gas station pumps have emergency shut offs, I looked for the red button. It was nowhere to be found. Gone! Okay, I thought to myself, this must be a test? 

The streetlight was fed by the municipal lighting system with no easy way of shutting that down. The gas (or water) puddle was about six inches below the frayed hot wires, nothing was sparking, with only a slight wind. I thought to myself, if it was going to blow up, like in the movies, it would have done that already. 

I approached the attendant; he was as white as a ghost, dazed and, likely, in shock. I tried asking him where the emergency pump shut off was. No answer. All right.

 I walked around the gas area and pulled out a ball of tape. I carefully handled the light standard base wires and taped them up. Heavily! Covered the base with road cone, then blocked off the water… or gas, with a cross arm. 

 Time to talk to the officer and get him to call an ambulance for the attendant. The cruiser was safe now, off the road and blocking the gas station which nobody was going to, for sure. The driver of the vehicle… long gone!

With the officer’s help, we found a breaker to isolate everything that we could. We contacted the owner, got the municipality to come clean up the light, and a wrecker for the car and pump. 

The ambulance crew came to help the attendant. The sight of the sliding car, with the pump and light dragging along, coming at him, had put him in shock.

It was time to write this one up, with a nice warm Timmie’s coffee. The police officer was very thankful and shared it was his first week on the job.

Bruce Masse – Trouble Technician

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