Iowan shares near-death experience to save others from similar fate
On August 24th, in 2011, Brandon Schroeder, a Cedar Rapids electrician, was doing some routine maintenance. But-- he neglected to put on his proper safety gear to protect against electrocution. That's when something went wrong. Schroeder was hit by an arc flash, a type of electrical explosion.
"You know that was molten metal and copper getting blasted at me at 35,000 degrees, expanding 67,000 times," said Schroeder.
Schroeder woke up in the hospital in what he describes as "excruciating pain." The skin on his face, arms and hands was badly burned.
"I did not think I would look anything like I used to ever again," said Schroeder. "I thought it was impossible."
Schroeder had to stay in the hospital for a month. After, came more recovery time at home. All the while he was falling into a deep depression.
"When an accident like this happens," said Schroeder, "it's your family that pays the price."
Schroeder was struggling to put back the pieces of his life. That's when he was asked if he wanted to share his story so other electricians could learn from his pain.
He put together a presentation, not leaving out any of the horrifying details, like the startling photos.
"When I walk into a room a lot of time company guys are thinking, 'I've been doing this for 20 or 30 years. I know what I am doing. This is just another safety meeting,'" said Schroeder. "They sit down and they want to have their coffee and doughnuts and then I walk in and they think, 'Who's this guy? What's he going to tell me that I haven't already heard?' When they see that first picture of my face, they understand."
Schroeder said he struggled to make it through that very first presentation, reliving the worst days of his life. But, as he did another and another, it got easier. Schroeder, felt better.
"I just decided that if I could help just one person, just one avoid an accident like mine, and it's not even electrical, I mean I've went and talked to companies that do all kinds of different things," said Schroeder. "But, we all have dangers that we face and nobody thinks that it's going to happen to them."
Schroeder now travels the country sharing his experiences and teaching safety. He even made a video to get his message to as many people as he can.
Schroeder said he's thankful for every single day he gets to spend with his family and proudly calls himself "Mr. Safety."