Update on Firefighter Shocked by Downed Powerline

Benton County Fire District 1 and Benton PUD held a press conference this morning to release the latest information on a firefighter who received an electirical shock yesterday on Game Farm Road near Jump Off Joe Butte.

Ty Schoenwald was among four firefighters responding to a report of a powerline that had fallen onto a woodpile which then ignited.

The fire crew waited for Benton PUD linemen to inspect the line and give the "all clear".  According to PUD officials, the linemen upon arrival saw one end of the severed powerline on the wood pile, but did not see the other end, which was running down the utility pole to ground.  They cut the end leading to the wood pile and gave firefighters the "all clear" to fight the small fire.

Schoenwald approached the fire with a pressurized water can, spraying a fine mist onto the woodpile, when he felt a small shock, then a large one.  The PUD linemen reported seeing a flash of light as Schoenwald fell on his back and rolled away from the fire.

Benton Co. District 1 Fire Chief Grant Baynes says at that point Schoenwald's heart went into ventricular fibrillation, where the heart flutters without pumping any blood.  The three other members of the fire crew immediately began CPR while a defibrillator was retrieved from the fire engine, which took about two minutes.  Once the defibrillator was used, Schoenwald's heart began pumping normally.

When Medic crews arrived, Schoenwald was conscious and alert, even laughing and joking with other firefighters.  He was transported to Trios Health in Kennewick, and then by airplane to Harborview in Seattle, which is standard protocol for any victim of electrical shock.

As of Thursday morning, Chief Baynes says Schoenwald will undergo one more test by a nuerologist and is expected to be home by the end of the day.  His family is with him and he is in good spirits.  He has minor burns on his fingers and a scratch on his face.

Benton PUD General Manager Chad Bertram says a full investigation into this incident will be complete in about two weeks.

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