How 811 Damage Prevention became my calling
If you would have asked me 15 years ago what I wanted to do and was working towards, Damage Prevention would have been the last thing I would have said. I was studying constitutional law and theatre at a small private university in Indiana. I had a 5 year plan that would take me through law school. However, life took a few surprise turns changing the carefully made plans over the following 4 years.
In February 2010, I started working for Underground Safety Alliance, the umbrella organization for Indiana811 and Kentucky811 as a Damage Prevention Specialist, taking one call tickets for homeowners and excavators. At first it was just a “job” to make ends meet while I figured out what I wanted as a career. Although I took every call seriously, my heart wasn’t in it.
Change comes with a ring
Then I took a call that changed my life. I had been at the call center for about a year. “Thank you for calling 811. My name is Kristin, how may I help you?”
“We were digging and we hit a gas line,” said a terrified voice on the other end of the line.
Processing a damage ticket wasn’t new, I had helped report numerous damages in that first year. Except the voice on the other side was scared and unsure, and there was an odd whooshing noise. This was not going to be a typical damage reporting call.
It was two homeowners who had just hit a line, and were standing within feet of the blowing gas. At once I realized what the background noise was, even though I had never heard it before. Immediately, I instructed them to move slowly away from the gas line, at least 100 feet. The last thing these frightened people needed was a random spark igniting the gas filled air.
After they were far enough away, I needed to calm them so we could continue and make not only them, but their neighborhood safe. The panicked edge in their voice took a couple of moments to reduce, but the moment it did, I asked if the homeowners had called 911. Unfortunately they had not, so that was our first task to accomplish. After having them confirm again that they were a safe distance away, the one person stayed on the phone with me while the other used their phone to contact the fire department.
By this point the initial panic from both of the homeowners had receded. While one talked to emergency services and then the gas utility, the other one and I were able to complete the Damage Ticket. It has been a long time since that call, and while I don't remember if they had called to have the line marked before they started digging, that call stayed with me. It was the catalyst for my dedication to damage prevention.
Damage Prevention-my passion!
Since that call I have been passionate about Damage Prevention. I threw my whole self into every phone call and resulting locate request. I wanted to protect others from injury due to unsafe digging. I learned everything I could about the 811 process.
It wasn’t long until my superiors and others took notice of the dedication developing within me and I was given more opportunities to learn about damage prevention, advancing from taking tickets to working directly with the member utilities, learning every step of the way. Once I started working with the utilities is where I really found my stride.
I love helping utilities protect their facilities and keep job sites safe. Without those markings on the ground anyone who disturbs the dirt could get hurt, and I wanted to be a part of a solution that helps utilities get their locating accomplished. That is how I ended up here at BOSS Solutions. Now I am able to help provide support for the utilities to manage their one call tickets.
I still adore learning more about damage prevention, and incorporating what I am learning into our BOSS811 solution. I am committed to our customers and how we can partner together to minimize damages.
Now if someone asks me what my calling is, the answer is easy: Damage Prevention!
BOSS Solutions is a proud partner in Damage Prevention
About the Author:
Kristin Reed is a Senior Support Engineer with BOSS Solutions. Kristin has been part of the Damage Prevention Industry for 11 years. She is committed to helping utilities and locators protect their facilities and keeping excavators safe at the dig site.