Employee Profile: LaRon Basey
As an emergency turner, LaRon Basey serves a range of Louisville Water Company customers and solves many different types of problems. For instance, he sometimes helps individual homeowners who can’t find the shutoff valve when they have a busted pipe, but then his next customer might be an entire section of the city because he’s often the first to get the call when there’s a broken water main.
He’s part of Louisville Water’s team of “first responders,” he says. “We’re the first to arrive on the scene in any water emergency.”
Basey grew up in Louisville and graduated from Jeffersontown High. He worked in construction and drove for TARC before joining Louisville Water in 2002. He has served the water company in several capacities, including meter reader, heavy equipment operator, plumber’s helper and assistant plant operator.
It’s a wide range of positions, but Basey says they’ve all had one thing in common: Louisville Water has always provided thorough training to help him quickly learn what he needs to know to do his job well.
In some of his previous positions, he was part of a repair crew, which is a prerequisite for becoming an emergency turner, who usually arrives on a scene solo, diagnoses the situation and then relays a report on the type of work that needs to be done to Louisville Water’s Radio Room. So Basey has built up an in-depth knowledge of the range of repair needs and water emergencies that can occur in the water company’s service area. He also has developed advanced problem-solving skills as well as a commitment to implementing solutions quickly while meeting or exceeding standards and regulatory requirements.
He wields a wide range of tools as a turner, from a manual water pump made out of PVC pipes to the wrench that shuts down water mains — a tool even taller than Basey. He says he enjoys not only the hands-on nature of the work but also the customer service and customer relations aspects. He also has a deep commitment to the critical role an emergency turner plays in keeping people safe. For instance, when the Radio Room dispatches him to a main break, the first thing he does at the scene is assess the traffic situation. If necessary, he’ll set out safety cones and direct motorists.
To locate the valves he needs to turn, he uses measurements displayed on his computer. Basey says he always tries to keep at least some water flowing to customers in the area, but if there’s major flooding, he may have to completely shut down the main.
And if there’s a large hole in the roadway or any other type of situation that could be dangerous to the public, he’ll stay on the scene until the Louisville Water repair crew arrives. He or another turner also has to return to the location after a main has been repaired to open additional valves and restore two-way feed to the area (unless it’s a dead-end main).
Basey’s commitment to safety — and to helping every customer as much as he can — once nearly got him into a dangerous situation himself. A homeowner had reported an unusual depression in her backyard. He knew there was no water service back there, but he went to check it out for her anyway.
Walking around the depression, which the homeowner had covered with sticks, he started hearing splashes. Then, as he poked the ground with a spade, the area around him suddenly started collapsing.
“It turned out to be an underground well,” Basey says. “It was terrifying because it was deep — really, really deep — and I almost fell in.”
“You never know what to expect,” he adds, “but being a turner is a great job.”