A Shocking Ending

Right after I got involved in the electrical trade, I was paired with an older journeyman to “learn the tricks of the trade.” We were tasked with adding courtesy receptacles in the main corridor of a large hospital's ICU ward. As these outlets were to be fed from a normal panel, the “old guy” used the tried-and-true method of finding circuit breakers in panels and stabbed the hot wire to the back of the receptacle box. Unfortunately, this was one of those unreliable panelboards that we all know too well, and the breaker didn't trip! So I hurried off to the local electrical room, found the panel in question, and turned off the “singing” breaker.

When I returned, the old guy was nowhere to be found, and the patient room directly across from the receptacle outlet we were working on was filled with hospital staff. As it turned out, my journeyman thought he had caused whatever problem the patient in this room was having, and decided to make a quick exit. After checking on the status of the patient, I found out he was very sick and had gone into cardiac arrest at the exact same time my journeyman performed his “stab job.” Fortunately, the two events were unrelated.

Shortly after this incident, our company bought us a current tracer.
Mike Soluri
Tampa, Fla.

The Red Light District

We had just installed a new production line for one of our products. The facility had three similar lines. Strobe lights were located on each end of these lines. They would flash when the line moved. Because the strobe lights were one of our own products, they were readily available. The other lines in the facility used clear, blue, and amber strobes. The senior engineer decided to go grab some red strobes for this new line. Not paying much attention to the color of wires (red and black), I went ahead and installed them. When I was finished with the job, we turned on the line, and the strobes worked fine for about a minute. Then they all filled up with smoke. Upon closer inspection, we realized we had installed 24VDC strobes on a 120VAC circuit! Our faces were as red as the strobe. Our boss still reminds us of this “short circuit” some 12 years later.
Joseph Donato
Long Branch, N.J.

Got a story about a jobsite blunder? Send it to egroup@penton.com. If we publish it, we'll send you a check for $25.