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A shocking safety lesson

Echo Press photo by Al Edenloff Electrical safety experts showed what can happen if a person - in this case a dummy - makes contact with a live power line. The demonstration set off sparks and a small fire.

Nearly 150 area emergency responders gathered at Runestone Electric Association's (REA) Operations Center on Monday to learn about the potential dangers of contact with a power line.

In addition to first responders, volunteer firefighters, police and sheriff department personnel, more than 75 law enforcement students from the Alexandria Technical College attended the training seminar.

REA and Alexandria Light and Power brought in Connexus Energy of Ramsey with its high-voltage safety demonstration trailer that vividly shows the effects of contacting 7,200 volts of electricity.

"Our goal tonight is to prepare you for dangers that you can and cannot see when you come upon a scene of an accident." said Terry McAlpine, loss control administrator for Connexus Energy.

Participants saw first hand the safety equipment used by electrical line workers. They also got a close-up look at various conductors and components of the electrical distribution system to gain a clearer understanding of how the distribution system operates.

McAlpine and his assistant demonstrated the power of electricity and the potential hazards associated with unsafe actions around power lines.

A special emphasis on low-voltage power was also stressed during the demonstration, including the value of electrical outlets with a Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI).

For more information on electrical safety, contact Runestone Electric Association at (320) 762-1121, visit the website or call Alexandria Light and Power at (320) 763-6501,