Employees recognized for heroic efforts - Great River Energy

Employees recognized for heroic efforts

Cooperatives are known to be motivated by people, not by profit. Among the business model’s guiding principles is “concern for community,” and at the heart of every community is the people who live, work and spend time there.

Great River Energy encourages its employees to act as an extra set of eyes and ears in their community and make use of their judgement and skills, such as first aid and CPR knowledge, and equipment, like two-way radios and trucks, for the good of the general public.

Great River Energy created The Good Neighbor program to honor employees who exemplify concern for others by going out of their way to lend a helping hand, oftentimes during an emergency, while on the job or in their personal lives.

Three employees were recently recognized with the program’s highest honor, the Award of Excellence, for two separate instances of providing help and access to save a life, minimize serious injury or change the course of an extremely serious situation.

Swift decision leads to timely medical attention

Brian McMullen, peaking plant operator technician, was at home one hot Sunday afternoon in July when his neighbor came over in distress. Her husband had been working in their attic and appeared to be suffering from heat exhaustion.

Pictured, from left, are: Preston Walsh, leader of Minnesota Generation; Jennifer McMullen, Brian’s wife; Brian McMullen, peaking plant operator technician; Walter McMullen, Brian’s son; and Rick McKibbon, peaking plant operator technician foreperson.

McMullen rushed to the neighbor’s house and found the man with a severe hand injury that was bleeding profusely. He took immediate action and used his first-aid training to control the bleeding and dress the wound. He then helped get the neighbor out of the attic.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, McMullen made a split-second decision to drive his neighbor 7 miles to the hospital emergency room himself rather than call an ambulance. There, the neighbor received the timely medical attention he needed.

“He was dazed and confused and suffering from heat stroke. I think that’s why he cut his wrist,” McMullen said. “I was happy to be able to help and that he has made a full recovery.”

McMullen’s heroic efforts were recognized by Great River Energy when Preston Walsh, leader of Minnesota generation, presented him with the Award of Excellence.

“Brian, your actions inspire us all, reminding us of the power of kindness and empathy. Thank you for being a shining example of a good neighbor,” Walsh said during an award presentation at Cambridge Peaking Station.

Right place, right time

Dwayne Liljegren and Zackary Gustafson were on their way to the Great River Energy’s Lutsen communications site in northern Minnesota when they made a quick stop at the Taconite Harbor Substation to retrieve some data.

When they arrived, an employee from Minnesota Power was also on site working with a semi-truck tanker driver at the on-site pond. When Gustafson couldn’t get into the substation building, he started walking over to the Minnesota Power employee to see if he had a key.

Dwayne Liljegren, telecommunications technician/electrician foreperson (left), and Zackary Gustafson, telecommunications technician/electrician, were recognized for their efforts with an Award of Excellence.

“He was heading to his truck for tools when I saw him slip and fall,” Gustafson said. “I witnessed him fall, then heard him start shouting in pain and rushed over to help him out. He recently had surgery on the same leg that he re-injured.”

Liljegren and Gustafson assisted with calling 911.

“We helped the man by getting him some warm clothes to lay on to stay warm, as he hurt too much to move into the truck,” Gustafson said. “Then we helped keep him comfortable until emergency services arrived.”

Liljegren used his Great River Energy vehicle and flashers at the approach road to flag down first responders. Gustafson stayed with the man to help keep him calm and watch for signs of shock. The fire department arrived before the ambulance and immobilized the broken leg.

After emergency medical services personnel arrived from Grand Marais, both Liljegren and Gustafson assisted with getting the man onto a stretcher. They team-lifted him onto the gurney and into the ambulance.

For their heroic efforts, Liljegren and Gustafson were recently recognized with the Level 3 Good Neighbor Award of Excellence.

“The areas in which our people work are predominantly rural and help can often be far off,” said Great River Energy’s Priti Patel, vice president and chief transmission officer. “Who knows what might have happened to this man if Dwayne and Zackary hadn’t heard his cries for help and stepped up.”

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