In Ohio, co-op heroes are everywhere

One Ohio cooperative sponsored a pair of honor flights that sent veterans to Washington, D.C.

Jeremy Warnimont and his cousin Jake, both linemen at Tricounty Rural Electric Cooperative, based in northwest Ohio, were coming home from a long day of training on transformer rigging near Columbus, when they saw a young girl flip her all-terrain vehicle (ATV) in a nearby field. The vehicle landed on top of her.

“She was trying to jump a dirt hill, but didn’t make it,” Jeremy says. “When I got to her, she was non-responsive. Jake called 911 and we stabilized her until the first responders arrived.”

Jeremy never learned exactly what injuries the rider suffered that day in March 2015, but when the first responders arrived, they strapped her to a back board, immobilizing her head and spine, and air-lifted her to the hospital. He and Jake found out later that she had recovered.

As a journeyman lineman, Jeremy gets plenty of safety training from Tricounty. He knows cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), advanced first aid, and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

But Jeremy deflected the thought that he did something unique, or even out of the ordinary. “I was glad I was there,” he says. “Pretty much any co-op employee would have done what they could to help.”

Jeremy’s right. There is no shortage of heroes working at Ohio’s electric cooperatives:

• Employees at Paulding-Putnam Electric Cooperative raised over $160,000 last year to send more than 170 World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C., on Honor Flights, so they could see the memorials built to honor their service. “Our employees are heroes for seeing a need and getting the community to rally behind them,” says Erika Willitzer, marketing and economic development manager for PPEC.

• Last September, JR McCoy, a crew leader and first class lineman for The Frontier Power Company, and his crewmate, Matthew Compton, were performing routine utility maintenance when they saw that a nearby house was on fire. After a call to 911, Compton kicked in the front door, to make sure no one was trapped inside the home (no one was). McCoy grabbed a garden hose, broke a window, and began spraying water on the fire. Meanwhile, Compton disconnected the electricity at the meter to make sure that a bad situation didn’t get worse.

• Brad Myers, a cable locater at Consolidated Electric Cooperative, in separate acts: rescued a man from a burning house; pulled a man out of a burning car; tended to someone who fell off his riding mower; and performed the Heimlich maneuver on a 10-year-old boy who was choking in a restaurant.

John Egan is president of Egan Energy Communications, a national energy communications firm.