In the NWT, power crews train to rescue the next colleague – or bear

Power line technician Nick Boken prepares to rescue a mannequin during a training exercise in Yellowknife in May 2023
Power line technician Nick Boken prepares to rescue a mannequin during a training exercise in Yellowknife in May 2023. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Power line technicians in Yellowknife spent Wednesday rehearsing a power pole rescue – a situation that, in the NWT, occasionally extends beyond humans.

An NWT Power Corporation line crew demonstrated a rescue for reporters involving a mannequin acting as an unconscious worker stranded up a pole outside the Jackfish power plant.

Crew leader Darren Hazenberg and journeyman power line technicians Nick Boken and Joseph Melanson took part. Boken propelled himself up the pole and safely retrieved the stricken mannequin in moments, while Hazenberg walked observers through the safety steps the team must take.

The activity was watched by manager of transmission and distribution Grant Penney and other staff.



Watch an NTPC line crew work to rescue a mannequin in a power pole rescue training session.

This kind of exercise is held every few months. This one took place as an example during the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission’s Safety and Health Week, the power corporation said.

In the field, callouts like these more often involve northern animals finding their way into scrapes involving power poles.

Yellowknifers who were around a decade ago will recall the flaming raven that infamously took out power to the city in 2014.

“There was a cat, and I believe our crew had a black bear,” said Hazenberg, recounting more recent events.



One bear near Fort Smith found its way up a steel transmission tower in pursuit of raven eggs, Penney said, before eventually coming down under its own steam.

Boken said a dead bear up a power pole in the vicinity of Dettah had to be retrieved last year. In that instance, the crew was able to get heavy equipment close enough that the technique shown on Wednesday wasn’t necessary.

To date, the line crew working on Wednesday’s demonstration said they haven’t had to use these skills for real with a human casualty – “knock on wood,” one crew member added.