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Lineman Heath Martin fell from this 35-foot electric pole near Sayre, Okla., after receiving a 7,200-volt shock 11 years ago. Martin sustained severe burns to his hands and face. Today, Martin is Northfork Electric Cooperative’s safety coordinator and is passing on the mes- sage to his fellow linemen that safety always comes fi rst. Photo courtesy of Heath Martin


A Lineman’s Motto:


“If it’s not grounded, it’s not dead.”


“Heath could have used that accident as a crutch, and that’s not what he


did. He came back to be as good as he was before—and even better,” Cope- land said.


Safety is his calling Though Martin had some doubts about leaving the fi eld work and initially questioned if he was the right person for the job since he had broken safety rules which led to the accident in 2001, he came to peace with the decision, knowing he had valuable lessons to teach.


“I feel like it’s a calling for me, because of the accident. It was a stupid mistake that almost cost me my life,” Martin said. “I don’t want to be the bad guy. I just want to make sure the linemen are doing what they need to do, what keeps them safe.” Martin is in the process of further developing the safety program. Part of this includes hands-on methods such as fi eld inspections and working in- person with crews. He recently returned from a conference in South Carolina where he earned a 30-hour certifi cate in Safety and Health Occupations, and he is involved in a “loss control” internship that involves several seminars and a fi nal project.


Martin is increasing his safety knowledge base so he can instill what he learns in other employees.


“I want to make sure they are all using all of the resources we have to be safe,” Martin said.


Crompton continued his work with NFEC as a lineman and now a con- struction foreman, and Martin described him as “one of their best.” Cromp- ton said he still thinks about that day, and it has made him more safety conscious. “If you think you ought to do something concerning safety, do it,” Cromp- ton advised.


Now, at age 39, Martin said he would tell his younger self to simply be smarter.


“Use your head. Don’t get in a hurry. Just be safe—that’s the fi rst rule,” he said.


At the time of the accident, Martin was single. However, he married his wife Michelle in 2008, and they live in Erick, Okla., with their dog Lucy, an 8-year-old cocker spaniel.


About two years after the accident, a television show contacted Martin about recreating his ordeal, and Martin took part in the fi lming. He said Michelle watched the reenactment and cried. “When we met, I was still in the fi eld. She’s glad I’m now doing the safety work instead,” Martin said. “I just want everyone to be safe and go home to family every night.”


Now, in May 2012, Martin is several months into his new full-time posi- tion as NFEC’s safety coordinator. He survived a serious accident that many others have not.


“I want people to hear my story, to open their eyes and make them think. I thank God every day. Apparently He had different plans for me,” Martin said. OL


MAY 2012 7


Rewards for Referrals Customer Referral Program


Cash Reward for Solid Referrals When a Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma customer makes a referral that results in a new customer, we’ll send the customer who made the referral a $25 cash reward!


$500 Grand Prize Drawing Each time a referral results in a new customer, your name will be entered in the drawing for a $500 cash prize. Eight winners will be drawn at the 2012 Annual Meeting.


Make a Referral To make a referral, complete a Customer Referral Form at your local branch office, or give your loan officer a call.


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