NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The U.S. Army recognized team members from the Wolf Creek Dam Power Plant as Army safety guardians, Nov 15, at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Headquarters.

Lt. Col. Cullen Jones, Nashville District commander, presented five employees from Wolf Creek Dam in Jamestown, Ky., with U.S. Army Safety Guardian Awards on behalf of Brig. Gen. Timothy Daugherty, commanding general at the Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Ala. The awards recognized their quick actions to evacuate an injured contractor from a confined space that reduced the time it took for the victim to receive life-saving medical treatment.

In a letter of appreciation, Daugherty noted how the employees quickly responded July 9, 2018 when a contract worker slid down a 30-degree, 150-foot sloped shaft inside the upper reaches of a hydropower penstock, which is a water intake into the turbine.

The accident victim impacted a metal hook and sustained severe trauma to his right arm, fractured ribs, and obtained life-threatening internal injuries. The Corps employees in the power plant provided first aid, evacuated the victim from the confined space, and directed emergency responders to the accident scene.

"The power plant's personnel actions reduced the time to the MEDEVAC helicopter, and medical personnel stated their actions saved the contractor's life," Daugherty wrote.

Jones presented United States Army Safety Guardian plaques to James Riley, Wolf Creek Dam Power Plant operator trainee; Robert Williams, Wolf Creek Dam Power Plant shift operator; Anthony Watters, Wolf Creek Dam Power Plant superintendent; Christopher Marlow, Wolf Creek Dam Power Project manager; Eric Todd McGowan, Power Plant maintenance worker, in recognition for their actions that day.

"The contractor made a bad decision in one of the worst places to do it, and sustained some life-threatening injuries," Jones said. "Through your team's coordination you took the time, invested in the training, to be able to do confined space recovery."

The commander lauded the team for being able to provide first aid, move the victim out of the confined space, and make immediate arrangements for a medevac helicopter.

The power plant employees noted that the Nashville District's Confined Space Rescue Course prepared them to immobilize and retrieve the victim. Watters said the accident surprised everyone, but panic did not set in because the team had been trained for this very emergency.

"It was nerve racking, but everyone worked as a unit," Watters explained. "Everyone reacted to the situation fluently just like they had practiced. They did exactly like they had trained; it was beautiful."

Watters said the award is humbling, but to respond and save a life means everything!

"As a supervisor that's exactly what you want to see," Watters added. "As we (the team) were coming (for the ceremony), we really didn't feel like we deserved anything because we just did what we were supposed to do."

The accident victim continues to recover from the injuries sustained at Wolf Creek Dam, Watters reported.

The U.S. Army Safety Guardian Award recognizes extraordinary actions or skills of individuals eliminating or minimizing injuries in dangerous situations.

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