For Josh Bernasek, a near tragedy turned into an unexpected opportunity.
Ten years ago, Bernasek had just finished his first year working as an apprentice lineman when he crashed his motorcycle, breaking his neck and back.
“I was off work for four months,” he said. “They removed a vertebrae and put in a titanium cage and then fused the vertebrae. I didn’t know if I’d have a job. I was no longer able to do line work. I kept asking them if there was something I could do. It was really scary.”
When Bernasek was able to start working again, he shuffled around, working in several different areas. He helped in the repair area, and returned for a time to work with the underground crews, which is where he started in his apprenticeship.
Eventually, Bernasek was hired to work in the Metering Department. A job that ended up being a closer fit to his background as an electrician than his job as a lineman would have been before the accident. Today, he’s an automation technician
For the last few years, he has been working on special projects, including OPPD’s first forays into smart grid technology and automated distribution. Bernasek was on the first smart grid evaluation team that reviewed and selected the communication vendors and equipment for the project.
He installed or was involved in the installation of nearly all of the smart devices that OPPD has set up.
“Smart grid is my main focus right now,” Bernasek said. “I’ll be working on the maintenance of the system as we continue to evaluate the 4 ½-square-mile area where we have smart grid. I like that this is all new and I’m constantly learning.”
Bernasek is also responsible for communicating between the other groups.
“It’s been cool to see this whole other side of the company,” he said. “Working with all of our engineers who work downtown and seeing their knowledge of the system has been pretty impressive.”
Outside of work, Bernasek and his wife, Nicole, keep busy with their young family. He likes spending time outdoors on their acreage with his children, Landon, Ledger, Laykyn and Quinn. Whether it’s camping, hunting or riding four-wheelers, the Bernaseks’ stay busy.