The job lineworkers do is special, not only in the valuable service they provide to our community, but also in the risks involved.
Our lineworkers are responsible for installing and maintaining electrical power lines, often working at great heights and in adverse weather conditions. Despite safety measures, accidents can happen, and electric lineworkers are at risk of sustaining electrical burns, thermal burns and other types of injuries.
Little River Electric—and every other electric utility in South Carolina—is fortunate to have access to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at the Doctors Hospital of Augusta, a world-renowned facility that provides exceptional care for burn victims.
Since 1978, the Burn Center has provided the specialized care needed by electric lineworkers who suffer burns. Electric burn injuries are different from traditional burn injuries. An electric burn is sometimes called the “great masquerader” because it can cause injuries beyond the surface of the skin—damage to muscles, nerves, organs, bones and tissues—due to the electrical current passing through the body. Additionally, high-voltage electrical burns can cause a sudden loss of heart function, which can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.
When someone is shocked, they first may go to the nearest hospital to stabilize but are often transported to the Burn Center. There, they will be monitored and receive the treatment needed for those injuries by the Burn Center’s team of highly trained and experienced burn surgeons, nurses, technicians and therapists.
Thanks to the Burn Foundation of America and the Jeffery Vaden Chavis House, families of burn victims are cared for, as well. Named in memory of a fallen firefighter from Lexington County who lost his life as a result of burns he received in the line of duty, the Chavis House provides lodging and other supportive services for the loved ones of patients at the Burn Center. Each year, members of WIRE (Women Involved in Rural Electrification)—a service organization associated with South Carolina’s electric cooperatives—raise money for the Chavis House. South Carolina’s electric cooperatives also welcome representatives from the Burn Center for education and training programs.
Support the Chavis House
Each year, the Jeffery Vaden Chavis House serves over 1,000 guests from across the United States as their loved ones receive treatment at the Joseph Still Burn Center. If you would like to support the Chavis House visit burnfoundation.net and click the Donate button in the top right corner.
On April 10, 2023, electric cooperatives across the country celebrate Lineworker Appreciation Day. It’s a day to recognize the men and women on our line crews who risk life and limb to keep our power on. Yes, they spend countless hours training, wear protective clothing and gear and are equipped with the tools needed to safeguard themselves, their fellow lineworkers and the public from the harm of making physical contact with an electrical current. But no amount of protocols or precautions can guarantee safety for our linemen. We’ll keep trying, though.
In the meantime, I also would like to express my appreciation for the men and women who care for our lineworkers, every other burn victim and their families at the Burn Center and the Chavis House. It’s a place we don’t want anyone to have to go to, but I’m certainly glad that it’s there.