May 20, 2024

The Power of Vigilance: How Dixie EPA’s Teamwork Saved Lives in Wayne County

In a small corner of rural Wayne County Mississippi, a seemingly ordinary day took a sudden turn when two employees from Dixie Electric Power Association found themselves in the right place at the right time to avert a disaster. Tommy Ulmer, Manager of Operations, and Dan Wooten, Waynesboro District Supervisor, became pivotal figures in preventing a tragedy that could have devastated their community. Their story is a testament to the importance of teamwork, safety consciousness, and the power of being vigilant.

Tommy Ulmer & Dan Wooten

Tommy’s day began with a routine call that led him to Wayne County for an inspection job. Little did he know that this errand would set the stage for a frightening sequence of events. As he traveled down a quiet road, his attention was drawn to a figure ahead—an individual with a gun slung over their shoulder and another protruding from a backpack. Instinctively, he sensed something amiss.

“I was on the phone with Dan, and I knew something wasn’t right.”, Tommy said. “I just had a bad feeling about what I was seeing. I knew Dan could call Central Dispatch directly, so I told him to go ahead and call it in.”

What followed was a series of decisions guided by intuition and a commitment to safety. Despite initial reservations, Tommy turned back, compelled by an unshakeable feeling that demanded closer scrutiny of the situation. As he recalls, “It was like the Lord told me that I need to go back right now. It was just such a strong feeling that something wasn’t right, and I needed to be there.” Meanwhile, Dan swiftly engaged with Central Dispatch, recognizing the urgency of Tommy’s observations.

Their seamless coordination and swift action underscored their dedication to the well-being of their community. Dan reflects, “Everything the co-op does is for the community. I’ve intentionally forged a very close relationship with our local law enforcement so that I’m able to work closely with them when things arise. Lineworkers are used to looking out for danger, because safety is at the forefront of everything we do. Our first responders have access to us, and we have access to them.”

As events unfolded, it became clear that their instincts were right on target. The individual they encountered—a young teenager—had sinister intentions, and was armed and en route to a local school with the intent to cause harm. Thanks to the timely intervention of Tommy Ulmer and Dan Wooten, tragedy was averted.

Their efforts did not go unnoticed. Superintendent Tommy Branch of the Wayne County School District expressed profound gratitude to Ulmer and Wooten. Branch stated: “The parents, students, and faculty of the Wayne County School District are eternally grateful to Tommy Ulmer and Dan Wooten of Dixie Electric EPA. Their vigilance and willingness to engage and respond to a suspicious individual, and alert authorities, potentially saved countless lives of students and faculty at Clara School.”

In essence, the story of Tommy Ulmer and Dan Wooten serves as a poignant reminder of the power of collective vigilance. In a world where threats can manifest unexpectedly, their readiness to act decisively underscores the importance of staying alert and responsive. Through their actions, they not only protected their community but also reaffirmed the values of teamwork, safety, and community partnership.