Chuck’s Home-Away-From-Home on Wheels

June 8, 2020

The Indiana Electric Cooperatives (IEC) safety, training and compliance team continually works with Indiana’s 38 electric cooperatives to pursue a culture of safety. This starts with thoroughly educating employees about all aspects of electric safety. We focus on all aspects, including preventive training, life-saving training, inspection and testing protocol, environmental awareness, equipment training and more.

While the IEC training service is most commonly in person, the COVID-19 pandemic required us to push pause on that method for a bit this spring. As our member cooperatives and Indiana Electric Cooperatives begin a return to in-person safety training, some aspects are reimagined.

The training schedule takes the safety, training and compliance team to all corners of Indiana each month. The team stops at least once a month at every member cooperative, which are located in 89 of the state’s 92 counties. The schedule often requires this road warrior team to spend a few nights a week in a hotel.

To protect the health of the team and member cooperative employees, IEC’s vice president of safety, training and compliance, Jon Elkins, knew he had to get creative with the schedule. He asked the team to schedule its cooperative visits in a fashion that would allow them to return to their individual homes each evening, even if it meant some additional time of the road. But, for team member Chuck Tiemann, that wasn’t possible. You see, Chuck’s home in northern Alabama is some 270 miles from the nearest Indiana electric cooperative.

Jon knew, as much as they tried to avoid it, the new training schedule would require some overnight stays, especially as they worked to get caught up on trainings paused earlier this year. He also knew it was impossible for Chuck to return home each evening.

Enter a 24-foot Kodiak travel trailer: Chuck’s home-away-from home on wheels for at least the next month. The plan allows for Chuck to take on the training schedule that requires overnight stays. The rented camper provides him with a safe, consistent place to rest each evening, knowing who’s been in the space the night before.

In his first week with the travel trailer in tow, Chuck visited Jasper County REMC, Newton County REMC and Warren County REMC. The line superintendent at Newton County REMC, Jim Evers, offered a spot in his own driveway for Chuck to park the camper the first week. This put Chuck right in the center of his cooperative visits for the week.

As he moves through the month of June, Chuck may spend some nights at a campground, while other nights may be spent in a cooperative parking lot – whichever is most practical for the travel schedule.

Follow along with Chuck’s travels over the next month, learn about the safety training the cooperatives are receiving, the good works of Indiana’s electric cooperatives, Chuck’s creative campfire cooking, and more.