At Airway Services, as it is with all of the TAKKION companies, safety comes first. That’s not just a line, not just a cliché. It’s the number one priority throughout each of the TAKKION companies.
Because of that, Airway Services invests a lot of time and a lot of money into its Safety Training program.
“I think the wind industry as a whole has really recognized the need for more training than what it provided in the past” said Dusty Jenson, the Director of Safety and Training for Airway Services. “Of course, there are OSHA regulations that we are required to train on, but there are some other needs that we train our people to work in.”
Those needs include growing their safety track record, hiring and training better instructors, finding the best ways to relay information, finding the best ways to go about teaching rescues, teaching first aid, and basic awareness courses like electrical safety, hydraulic safety, and more.
One of the most recent, and most important, additions to the Safety and Training division of Airway Services has been its news trainer, Dustin Rader.
Rader joined the Airway team in July of 2022 and, in his short time with the company, he has proven himself to be an irreplaceable asset.
Rader brings with him more than 13 years of experience as a trainer and much of his interest in the area of safety comes from a point in his career in which safety wasn’t a priority.
“I had an incident early on in my wind career that geared me more towards safety; that geared me more towards documentation, that geared me more towards following the plans that are set in place,” Raider said. “If someone isn’t there to teach people the appropriate way to do things, if someone isn’t willing to put in the effort to show people how to keep themselves safe, or how to actually follow the plan, then what’s the point? If you keep cutting the corners off of a box, you end up with a circle. And you lose track of what the end goal is.”
And, Rader said, the end goal at Airway Services is to make sure that its employees get home safely. Period.
“It’s about going home the same way you showed up,” he said. “The goal is to go home with ten fingers and ten toes, just like how you showed up. I want people to be better when they leave. I want them to think about – especially from an advanced rescue standpoint – I want them to think about the situations that they can end up in and how they would be able to get themselves or their coworkers out of those situations, beforehand. I want to put it in their brain that they should be looking at all of these different paths for a rescue, prior to going into those spaces, or before the actual rescue comes up. I want them to have some type of thought process before it even comes up.”
Like the old adage says, the best defense is a good offense and that’s a mantra that Airway Services takes very seriously.
“As the industry grows and the GWO (Global Wind Organization) continues to grow, they’re rolling out more specific training modules,” Jenson said. “Over the last year, we’ve worked really hard to not only add to our basic safety and basic technical training, but we’ve added the Advanced Rescue and the Controlled Hazardous Energy modules – to not only comply with our customers’ requirements, but to better prepare our technicians to work in the environment that they’re going to work in.”
Jenson said the goal is to better prepare technicians to perform rescues in challenging environments, such as up-tower rescues on wind turbines and with hazardous energy sources such as electricity, mechanical energy, and hydraulic energy.
In order to teach those types of rescues, Airway Services knew they needed to hire somebody with experience, with knowledge, and with the drive to pass on that experience and knowledge to others.
They found that with Rader.
“Dustin has been a valuable asset for us,” Jenson said. “He’s really done a lot as far as learning these techniques for the advanced rescues; to the point that he’s probably one of the most experienced advanced rescue trainers in the United States. That’s what he’s done, that’s what he’s specialized in, for the last several years. And so, to have him come onto the team and to bring that knowledge and that experience and that expertise to Airway…it’s just been incredible.”
Rader’s teaching method is hands-on, in certain ways. But he also allows his trainees to make mistakes. Then, he explains how and why those mistakes were made, and offers ideas on how to avoid them in the future.
“I really push for involvement from the class,” Rader said. “I like getting them involved, getting them hands-on, and getting them repetitions with the equipment. I try not to teach a specific type of rescue; more just how the equipment works, how the gear works, and how you can use those pieces and parts together. And then I just open the door for them to start their rescue.”
Both Jenson and Rader understand that safety is of the utmost importance at Airway Services – and they were hired to ensure that the rest of the company understands that as well.
“Safety is definitely important,” Jenson stated. “In fact, it’s our first core value at Airway. We see the safety of people as our number one priority; making sure that our people come to work safely, but also leave safely at the end of every day. And so, we’ve really tried to give our people – our technicians, our guys in the field – the tools and the resources they are going to need to be able to work in these high-risk environments and to make sure that they go home to their families every day. That’s been our focus. It’s a focus and it’s deeply ingrained in just about everything we do, in every area of our business. I’d say it’s one of the most important things that we consider on a day-to-day basis.”
“If you don’t have safety on your mind, you’re in trouble,” he said. “There’s really no one looking over your shoulder when you’re out there. It’s not like you’re in a spot where you could be constantly monitored to ensure that you’re being safe. You don’t have somebody watching you. You have to take safety in. You have to learn these different rules. You have to learn these different techniques and keep yourself safe because it’s you and your partner out there. You guys are all you have. You have to be your brother’s keeper. There are no other options.”