Whether you watch your news on TV, read the newspaper, or follow the latest updates on social media there is usually a touching story of someone getting help from an unexpected source. A cab driver delivering a baby. A store customer stepping in to prevent a robbery. A motorist stopping on the way to work to change the tire for an older person alongside the road. While these stories may not have the “thrill factor” of the superhero deeds produced in Hollywood, they nonetheless give our day an emotional boost.
I think we could all speak of a time when we viewed utility workers as one of these “everyday” heroes. Most of us can share a story of a time when a storm knocked out power but, thanks to linemen working around the clock, power was restored to every home within 24 hours. Or of a water main break that was fixed before area residents were placed in a dire situation.
However, instances like these, while demanding extraordinary dedication, skill and talent, are par for the course for utility workers. We often expect this work to be done as part of the “job description” and wouldn’t necessarily categorize the actions as heroic. No, when we think heroes, we think of people taking extraordinary measures, putting their lives in danger to help others, and stepping up when no one else will.
These types of coming-to-the-rescue heroics happen among utility workers more often than you may realize. Here are just a few examples:
- Water workers rescue trapped platypus (in Australia, of course!)
- Utility workers in Arizona save drowning otter pup
- Utility work revives choking toddler
- Water utility workers save a man from drowning
Certainly, extraordinary actions like these happen because workers are at the right place at the right time—and because the worker-heroes have a work ethic to serve their community. . In addition, though, utility workers frequently have training—including CPR and rescue—specialized knowledge, and equipment that allows them to be of service in emergencies. This was the case in a recent situation handled by a Pennsylvania American Water employee who aided two fellow restaurant patrons during a flash flood, moving one’s car to higher ground and then assisting the other who had become trapped in her car as waters were rising. By first ensuring his own safety and then keeping calm while assessing the situation, he was able to be there for others in need.
When weighing whether or not utility workers can fall into the heroes category, consider the list of the 25 most dangerous jobs in the world. In a group that contains everything from firefighters and police officers to astronauts and alligator wrestlers, you’ll also find sanitation workers (number 7) and linemen and power workers (18). Every day, these utilities workers go to work knowing they may be putting their lives at risk so that the communities they serve can have the resources they need to live and thrive. So, I say, move over Aqua Man and Wonder Woman, and make room on the docket for the American Utility Worker!