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Sur­vivor warns of power line dan­ger

Troy Hall telling his story so oth­ers keep them­selves safe

- Short Film · Movies · Bay of Plenty RU · Facebook

The first jolt of elec­tric­ity from over­head power lines went through the right-hand side of av­o­cado har­vester Troy Hall’s head – killing him. The sec­ond jolt, right through the ch­est, broughthim­back.

“That’s the one that lit­meup. Iwas en­gulfed in flames for awhile. I lost sight in­myleft eye, lost­myright ear, 60 per cent torso burns all overmy body and legs, and a quar­ter ofmy face,” says Hall, 31, whois re­liv­ing his ac­ci­dent to ed­u­cate oth­ers about the im­por­tance of stay­ing well clear of power lines.

Heis shar­ing his story in a short film for Pow­erco’s pub­lic safety cam­paign, LookUp, specif­i­cally tar­get­ing hor­ti­cul­tural work­ers in the western Bay of Plenty, where Pow­er­coowns and op­er­ates the elec­tric­ity net­work.

But it’s a safety mes­sage that will res­onate with any­one – demon­strat­ing the power of elec­tric­ity with ahard-hit­ting re­minder of what can hap­pen if you get too close to power lines, Pow­erco gen­eral man­ager, health and safety, JulieMcAvo­y­said.

“Stay safe. When­work­ing and us­ing equip­ment in and around or­chards, please look up­be­fore you work and keep your­self and equip­ment at least 4me­tre­saway from power lines,” McAvoy­said.

“You don’t even need to touch a power line to be in dan­ger – elec­tric­ity can­jump the gap through the air to your equip­ment and to you. Ev­ery

line must be treated as live. Al­ways.”

It­wasOc­to­ber 2011whenHa­ll re­ceived the mas­sive elec­tric shocks when­pick­ing av­o­ca­dos at height on a cherry picker in aMat­apihi, Tau­ranga or­chard.

“On the day of the ac­ci­dent, it­was rain­ing.

“I re­mem­ber, about an hour be­fore­hand, ac­tu­ally pop­ping out through the trees and through the power lines them­selves. With the at­ti­tude Ihad back then, (I thought) it­was just like an­ear miss and didn’t re­spect justhow­close Iwas at that time,” Hall said.

“The last­mem­ory. . . is pop­ping out of the tree and black­ing out.”

It is un­der­stood themetal cher­ryp­icker hewas­workingon hit the power lines and the elec­tric­ity jumped through the air to him.

Nine years on from the hor­rific ac­ci­dent, the re­cov­ery is still on-go­ing for Hall, who­has al­lowed for photos of his early in­juries while re­cov­er­ing in hos­pi­tal to beshownin the film as part of ed­u­cat­ing other hor­ti­cul­tural work­ers.

“I’m glad that this is go­ing to get views, tomakepeo­ple aware of power lines and the real risks in­volved if you get hit by elec­tric­ity,” he said.

“The re­cov­ery is on-go­ing to this day, es­pe­cially in the men­tal as­pects,” says Troy, whonow­op­er­ates his own Bay of Plenty-based, av­o­cado har­vest­ing and tree pruning busi­ness called Aro­har­vest.

“At the start of the re­cov­ery, it­was quite ade­press­ing time. It tookme pret­ty­mu­chover a year-and-a-half to two years to get any sort of mo­bil­ity back – of feed­ing my­self and walk­ing, and any sort of in­de­pen­dence. Even to this day, there’s a lot of re­stric­tions.

“My ad­vice to or­chard own­ers and peo­ple work­ing around power lines is to be aware of your sur­round­ings and look up. I’d hate for any­body to godown­the same­jour­ney I’ve been through over a split-sec­ond mis­take.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant to re­ally take into ac­count the power of elec­tric­ity.”

Pow­erco will be pre­mier­ing Hall’s filmed story on its Face­book and YouTubecha­n­nels, and boost­ing it into the Bay of Plenty – the­homeof NewZealand’s av­o­cado and ki­wifruit in­dus­tries – fromthiswe­ek.

The­com­pa­nyis also seek­ing to work with the lo­cal hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try bod­ies to showthe film as part of their in­dus­try train­ing around over­head power line safety.

McAvoysays Troy pro­vided a se­lec­tion of his re­cov­ery pho­to­graphs for use, which means­the three­minute film is, at times, graphic in na­ture.

“Weap­pre­ci­ate that photos of Troy’s in­juries­may­make­some peo­ple feel un­com­fort­able. For this rea­son, we­have specif­i­cally put a warn­ing about the graphic con­tent at the start of the video.

“Hor­ti­cul­tural work­ers have some of the high­est rates of in­jury and death from over­head power lines.

“We­need to be hard-hit­ting so that the mes­sage re­ally gets through to peo­ple about the im­por­tance of stay­ing at least 4me­tre­sawayfrom power lines to stay safe,” she said.

You don’t even need to touch a power line to be in dan­ger – elec­tric­ity can jump the gap through the air to your equip­ment and to you.

Julie McAvoy

 ??  ?? Elec­tric shock sur­vivor Troy Hall.
Elec­tric shock sur­vivor Troy Hall.

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