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Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative hosted an electric vehicle safety training for Polk County emergency responders Wednesday evening, April 26. It was a full house, with 95 local firefighters, EMTs and law enforcement personnel attending and stating that the training is greatly needed and valued, as there is a lot to learn about EVs.

“Polk-Burnett is pleased to provide this safety training as part of our co-op commitment to community,” said Joan O’Fallon, communications director. “As we see more EVs on the road, we want to help prepare our local first responders, so they can respond with confidence to emergencies that involve EVs. We appreciate our first responders and the safety they provide in our communities.”

The course covered electric vehicle technology, responding to EV accidents and disabling EVs, towing, unlocking and operating EVs, fire suppression and extrication techniques. The three-hour training included hands-on engagement with different types of EVs, including three Teslas, a Ford Lightning truck and a hybrid Chevy Volt.

Instructors were from EVsafe, a southern Wisconsin-based organization, with more than 30 years of first responder experience. Polk County Emergency Management Director Lisa McMahon partnered with the co-op to help organize the event.

Emergency response organizations in attendance were Amery Fire, Apple River Fire, Allied Fire, Centuria Fire, Cushing Fire, Frederic Fire, Lorain Fire, Luck Fire, Milltown Fire, Osceola Fire, St. Croix Falls Fire, Polk County Sheriff's Office, Northwestern EMS and Lakes Region EMS.

Based on the success of the training, the co-op plans to offer it for Burnett County emergency responders next year.

Polk-Burnett provides safe, reliable electricity for members, including power for EV charging, with incentives for off-peak, overnight charging.