PNM on Balloon Fiesta accidents: 'Let the professionals handle it'
Posted at: 10/01/2012 5:02 PM
| Updated at: 10/01/2012 5:44 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, Eyewitness News 4
The Balloon Fiesta starts this Saturday, October 6, and PNM workers are already prepared for the inevitable collisions between balloons and power lines. They want you to be prepared too.
The message is " let the professionals handle it" when you see a balloon draped over a power line and the people in the gondola screaming for help. Running up to help people climb out is about the most dangerous and deadly thing you can do, even though it is most people's first instinctive impulse.
That power line could be vectoring anywhere from 12,500 to 500,000 volts through the balloon and gondola and your contact with it could turn the whole thing into an electrical storm with fatal results. There could be enough electricity running through there to execute 250 convicts in 250 electric chairs at the same time! Nobody wants to be dead x 250! So don't touch - whip out your cell phone instead.
"That person should call 911," said Steve Dettmer of PNM. "Call the law. They will call PNM and get us involved, and that way we can get our people out on scene and take care of the situation. Keep your distance from the balloon."
"We're kind of hoping the trend continues," said Nida Courtney Bueno of the Balloon Fiesta. "We've had two years with relatively few incidents and no accidents to report, so we're hoping that continues. But if it does happen, follow the instructions the PNM folks give and keep yourself safe as well as the folks in the balloon."
Balloon pilots do get plenty of instructions and reminders about power lines every year before the Fiesta starts. Still, we are talking about an aircraft that operate at the mercy of the wind - inherently dangerous, especially when you consider than PNM has about 18,000 miles of power lines in New Mexico.