“What are you risking?”

By Kathy Hill

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the value of one person sharing his experience to help others is inestimable.

For National Grid Transmission and Distribution employees last month, that person was Gary Norland. An electrician and speaker, Gary traveled across upstate New York telling his story of the day his life, and the lives of everyone around him, changed forever. What Gary has to share after surviving contact with 12,500 volts of electricity – including the years of hospitalization and more than 50 surgeries  that followed – touches everyone who hears him.

Before January was over, Gary had presented his “The Impact of an Injury: What are you risking?” talk during New York Electric’s “Half Day Off the Truck” safety learning series – 22 times, reaching hundreds of National Grid electrical workers across upstate.

“We’ve had various speakers during this program for several years now, but this gentleman was one of the most impactful.” said Keith McAfee, Vice President, Electric Operations – NY.

“I’m not teaching electrical safety,” says Gary. “I’m sharing an experience that will impact you in a way that you’re going to want to make a change in your life … you’re going to make safety Number One.”

You can view Gary’s videos here and here.


Gary Norland

‘Prior to my injury I was very involved in my kids’ life, coaching their teams, their basketball, baseball, soccer, swim team, things like that … After my accident, all that changed’ – Gary Norland



Critical Steps in an Electrical Emergency

Gary Norland shares how a contractor, standing beside him when he was shocked by a high-voltage line, reached out trying to save him. The contractor only avoided contact himself because in that moment the power went out at the substation. Today, Gary’s presentations and his website include these critical steps to follow whenever you witness someone undergoing electrical shock:


What you should do while waiting for medical help:

1. Look first. Don’t touch. The person may still be in contact with the electrical source. Touching the person may pass the current through you.
2. Turn off the source of electricity, if possible. If not, move the source away from you and the person, using a dry, nonconducting object made of cardboard, plastic or wood.
3. Check for signs of circulation (breathing, coughing or movement). If absent, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately.
4. Prevent shock. Lay the person down and, if possible, position the head slightly lower than the trunk with the legs elevated.
5. After coming into contact with electricity, the person should see a doctor to check for internal injuries, even if he or she has no obvious signs or symptoms.

• Don’t touch the person with your bare hands if he or she is still in contact with the electrical current.
• Don’t get near high-voltage wires until the power is turned off. Stay at least 20 feet away — farther if wires are jumping and sparking.
• Don’t move a person with an electrical injury unless the person is in immediate danger.

Many people make the error of sacrificing themselves in the attempt to help others. Your knowledge of how to handle a situation will save your life as well as possibly the life of the person in danger.

One Comment

Robert Kalberer

This is a dramatic presentation by a very fortunate individual. Through all the pain Gary has endured, he still wants to relive it to spread the message of safety 24/7 and how precious every moment is with family and friends.


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