NEBRASKA SAW a record turnout for their Excavation Safety Summit after a year off due to COVID.
Hosted by Common Ground Nebraska (CGN) and Nebraska811, the free educational event brought together over 1,250 damage prevention stakeholders from across the state to the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln. The event has seen a significant increase in attendance every year since its inception in 2011. After missing a year due to the pandemic, attendance came back strong and doubled the usual increase in attendees.
CGN President Nathan Stewart summed up the one-day conference by saying, “This year’s event was a tremendous success. The event continues to grow every year with this year being our highest attendance yet. I think it speaks to the event being both fun and educational for participants while raising awareness for the need to dig safely. Our ultimate goal is for everyone to go home safely every day from work. We try to provide some tools at this event to help them do that.”
The keynote speaker was burn survivor Spencer Beach. Years ago, Beach received third and fourth degree burns to his body but was able to escape; he now shares his fascinating story, along with a message about the power of change, with audiences all over the country. The audience showed their appreciation for his safety message with a standing ovation.
Educational sessions helped locators, excavators and others in the industry learn about everything from safe digging basics and damage investigation preparedness to a pilot GIS mapping project and tips for more effectively submitting One Call tickets.
There were also plenty of opportunities for fun throughout the day. In addition to a comedy sketch by the Master of Ceremonies, an excavator rodeo (complete with cash prizes) and a charity raffle benefitting Construction Angels, attendees could tour and try the simulators from a local community college as well as the New York 811 VR-X-SIM Vehicle, an immersive virtual reality safety training vehicle and demonstration of real-world scenarios and challenges that an excavator may face on the job. Some of the finer points of safe digging were brought about in a session titled “Ask Nebraska811” where attendees submitted questions throughout the morning and learned the answers later in an interview with the board president. Other highlights of the day included interactive audience polling for a variety of questions and a game show that included volunteers from the audience and personalities from the State Fire Marshal’s agency and the One Call Board of Directors.
The 811 Car, part of One Call Concepts’ “811 Trio” fleet of vehicles, was also on hand. Designed by Paul Teutul Jr. of American Chopper and Paul Junior Designs fame, the eye-catching custom Corvette helps spread awareness of 811 and damage prevention throughout the country.
Event sponsors and exhibitors were an important part of the event and a big attraction for attendees. The showcasing of information and tools to utilize in the daily work of digging contributed greatly to the educational experience. Great support year after year helps in bringing a robust agenda of speakers and a variety of interesting elements, as well as allowing it to be a free event for the attendees.
Nebraskans can feel safer knowing there is such strong interest year after year for this event where attendees renew their commitment to create a safe work environment, increase their knowledge about safe digging practices and prevent damages to the underground utilities we rely on every day. We are already looking forward to next year when the event will be held February 22, 2023. For more information, visit ne-cga.com.