The man who should have known better is part of an electricity safety campaign in Illinois.   Tom Dickey is a contractor who had already sent his safety equipment back to the shop at the end of a job. The customer asked for one more dig, and Dickey obliged anyway. Before long, he was lit up with 7,200 volts and somehow lived to tell the tale.


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Dickey spent months in the hospital. He had to have a hand attached to his side for six weeks, so the hand could grow enough fresh tissue to take a skin graft.   Dickey says he told himself, “’Tom, you’ve just killed yourself.’ And it was almost like time slowed down, being energized with that much electricity, because my next thought was, ‘I wonder how they’re going to get my equipment back to the shop without me,’ and my next thought was, ‘Well, dummy, you’re dead.’”


The job was almost 10 years ago. All Dickey would have needed would have been a rubber mat to stand on, plus rubber gloves and a rubber cape to protect his body, plus having an electrician on site.   The safety campaign includes the admonition to always call JULIE before you dig. That free utility-location cooperative has its own 3-digit phone number: 811.


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