Rural Missouri - July 2020 - 24

LIFESAVER
Co-op employee thinks fast
and saves a pair of lives

Above: Kurtis stands at the scene where he rescued men from a burning vehicle. Right: Shortly after the rescue, the truck was engulfed in flames.
by Paul Newton | pnewton@ruralmissouri.coop

Leslie Powers was behind the wheel of the wrecked
vehicle. In the course of overcorrecting on the roadway, his
truck went off Route J, through a yard, took out a stump
mployees of Missouri's electric cooperatives - espeand was only stopped by a tree. "I was pretty loopy after
cially those who work outside of the office - receive
we hit the tree," he says.
extensive safety training. From instruction on how
While the woman was speaking with a 911 dispatchto use a fire extinguisher to operating an automated
er, Kurtis made his way over to the vehicle. The passenexternal defibrillator to limiting slips, trips
ger was more responsive than Leslie; Kurtis spoke to
and falls, they strive to make sure everyone
him through the glass.
gets home safely. While this training is intend"I could tell he was panicked, but he was still
ed to save the lives of co-workers, sometimes
pretty calm considering," Kurtis says. "He just said
these employees happen to be in the right place
'help us out, we can't get out.' "
at the right time and save someone else.
Macks Creek
He saw smoke coming from the vehicle so
That was the case in late May for Kurtis
he rushed to his work truck to grab his hamBrown who works for Bolivar-based Southwest
mer and fire extinguisher. After unsuccessfully
Electric Cooperative. Kurtis started with the
attempting to get the door unlatched because
co-op as a summer intern and was hired as a fullit was jammed, Kurtis told the passenger he was
time lineworker in 2015. He is now a staking technigoing to break the window to allow them to escape the
cian working out of their Preston office.
burning vehicle.
It was a normal day for Kurtis. He had appointments
What happened next nearly broke the 26-year-old. It
with members who were adding new services with the cowasn't an ambulance Leslie was driving. Instead, it was a
op. He also would be using his hammer to check poles for
vehicle used to pick up money from banks and other busirot and put stakes in the ground. While on his way back to
nesses. It was designed to keep people out.
the office all sense of normalcy ended when he came upon
"He tells me, 'this is an armored truck, you're not going
a truck stopped in the middle of the road not far from the
to be able to break the glass,' " Kurtis recalls. "My heart
intersection of Route J and Highway 54.
just sank. I didn't think I was going to be able to help
"There was a lady there who was visibly upset and
these guys. The fire was getting considerably worse and I
scared," Kurtis says. "I saw what I thought was an amwas afraid I was going to have to step away and watch this
bulance off of the road. She told me there were two men
burn."
inside."

E

24

RURAL MISSOURI | JULY 2020



Rural Missouri - July 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2020

Contents
Rural Missouri - July 2020 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - July 2020 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - July 2020 - Contents
Rural Missouri - July 2020 - 4
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Rural Missouri - July 2020 - Cover4
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