My Story - How 811 Damage Prevention became my calling!

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.  


Damage Prevention blog post


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

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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.

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Why You Should Always Call 811 Before You Dig - A Reminder On 811 Day

811 Day Graphic 1-2

Why You Should Always Call 811 Before You Dig - A Reminder On National 811 Day

Damage to underground utility lines is a major problem in the United States. Incidents caused by unsafe digging practices can compromise community safety and disconnect people from critical services. This is why the 811 service remains one of the most important national services available to contractors and homeowners. 

In this article, we will be discussing what 811 day is and why it is essential to always call 811 before you dig!

What is 811? 

811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number. Anyone who plans to dig should call 811 or go to their state 811 center’s website before digging to request that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags so that you don’t unintentionally dig into an underground utility line.


811 Day is an annual initiative led by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to ensure that the practice of safe digging is echoed in communities by calling 8-1-1, a nationwide toll-free number, before any excavation project. 


811 is an essential service for damage prevention and seeks to eliminate damages caused by digging, which remains the leading cause of pipeline incidents. The 811 service was enacted due to a disaster that occurred in the late ’60s, where there was a major accident on the west coast that caused major gas leakages, fires, and power outages due to improper digging. In response to this, the 811 law was passed.


The 811 law required that all companies (including utilities/government agencies) or individuals who undertake an excavation project call 811 prior to start of the project. It also required lines and markings to be drawn around areas to indicate the presence of pipelines, cables, fiber underneath the surface. Each state has their own unique processes and laws for digging.

When an 811 call is received, the call center is required to create a Locate Request Ticket referred to as One Call ticket. Additionally, it mandated that all the utility companies respond to 811 tickets (referred to as one-call tickets) raised by the excavators with the call centers within a certain timeframe. These call centers have the important responsibility of managing, tracking, and closing these tickets with the goal of minimizing the occurrence of accidents. 

Why It Is Important To Dig Safely 


Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged or destroyed because an excavator did not properly mark the warning lines before digging. The depth and placement of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons including erosion, previous digging projects, and uneven surfaces, which makes planning and preparation very important. 

Making assumptions about where the utility lines are under your property can be extremely dangerous. Even striking a single line can result in injury, significant repair costs, fines, and inconvenient outages for you and your neighbors. 


The odds for avoiding disaster during these dig-ins improve by nearly 99% if lines are properly marked in advance. If protocols are not followed and 811 is not consulted, there can be significant damages to not just the immediate area, but the entire community. When excavators follow the federal guidelines and ensure they are digging properly, damages and accidents can be avoided. This is what makes 811 so important - it provides a very useful service to mitigate accidents and damages!

One of the major organizations promoting safe digging and Damage Prevention is the Common Ground Alliance (CGA). It is a member driven alliance committed to saving lives and preventing damage to North American underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices. Membership in the CGA is open to all stakeholders with a genuine interest in reducing damages to the underground infrastructure. CGA’s top-tier members represent some of the largest companies and organizations in North America.

How To Dig Safely 


Excavators must take a proactive approach to safety by utilizing the 811 One-Call System and adhering to the following steps of a safe excavation:

  • Always call before you dig.

Federal and state laws require you to place a locate request prior to digging or excavating. It is also good practice to ensure you know about the area you are going to dig.

  • Wait the required time.

Once you call, you will need to wait in order for the call center to determine the details of your site and project. Do not begin excavating prior to your stated start date and time.

  • Confirm Utility Response

After the call center has notified member utilities of the pending excavation, you are responsible for making sure each utility operator has responded prior to digging.

  • Respect the Marks

Familiarize yourself with the markings and the locations of buried facilities at the site prior to excavation.

  • Dig With Care!

Dig test holes to verify location, type, size, direction-of-run, and depth of the marked facility. Remember - you can never be too careful in these situations!

As you can tell, the call centers that handle the one-call ticketing processes play a crucial role in damage prevention.  Also the improvements in efficiency with which the utilities respond to these tickets will result in significantly reduced damages and accidents.

BOSS Solutions created an industry-leading Cloud based One-Call Ticketing  solution with this objective in mind. BOSS811 is a cloud based One Call Ticket Management Solution for Municipalities, Utilities and Locator Companies managing excavation requests.

It comes with an award winning UI and easy navigation. With Facility map integration, it provides a visual component for effective management and tracking of dig requests. The  powerful ticket screening capability makes it easy to close tickets automatically or alert appropriate locators.

BOSS Solutions is a proud partner in damage prevention.


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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.

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