The tragic death from an electrocution in Rosedale Park last month points to a need for changes.
In a report issued last week, the Board of Public Utilities released some facts after it investigated the electrocution death June 16 from a downed power line in Rosedale Park in Kansas City, Kan.
It is commendable that the BPU also is reviewing its policies in the wake of the tragedy.
Policies and procedures need to be changed to prevent another repeat of the tragedy.
Following a storm with 70 mph winds, a power line went down in Rosedale Park shortly after 4 p.m. June 15. Crews did not arrive to repair the line until 3:29 a.m. Sunday, June 16, according to the BPU report. By then it was too late. A Shawnee resident who was trying to play nighttime disc golf at the park was electrocuted.
As with almost any tragedy, a number of things had to go wrong at the same time for it to happen.
Although it was the sort of accidental electrocution involving a storm that probably will never happen again, and although most of us would never anticipate a person being at a public park during the hours when it is closed, still there are some preventive actions that could be taken in the future.
Quite clearly, the BPU was inundated with calls right after the storm. The report says there were 553 calls about power outages, and 30 downed lines that Saturday.
The BPU would be better off to put a system in place to improve its response to emergencies, and to hire private contractors or subcontractors to do the time-consuming repairs to downed lines more quickly in the event of an emergency when their workers are swamped.
Perhaps the simplest solution would be coordination among the utility, the police and sheriff’s office to place barriers around downed lines and prevent people from getting near them.
The community also may want to consider getting park gates that close and lock when the parks are closed.
Another idea that could be considered is a method to change the technology in public areas such as parks so that electricity to a downed line could easily be shut off from a remote location.
There are more high-tech solutions out there, such as electronic monitors at park entrances that notify security when someone enters after closing time, or a better system that tracks and shows progress on repairing downed lines. There’s also the option of burying electric lines at parks, starting with one park a year.
The BPU is correct in reviewing its policies and procedures following this accident. While some of these solutions could be too expensive for the community, surely there might be one or two that can be tried to try to prevent any similar tragedies in the future.
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