When it comes to serving customers, DTE Energy employees are committed to doing it in a safe, caring, dependable and efficient way – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s why when Shawne Walthall, general supervisor in DTE’s electric dispatch group, heard there were talks to sequester employees to ensure that the company could continue to provide reliable energy during the pandemic – she started to prepare. Walthall sat her three daughters down to discuss the possibility of her being sequestered at work for weeks at a time.
“We talked through how they felt and if they would be okay with it,” Walthall explained. “My one daughter said,`Mommy, that’s just who you are. I know you will do what you can to help anyone, especially your job. We will be fine.’”
After getting reassurance from her children, Walthall accepted the call to be sequestered. For 21 years, she has helped coordinate electric field activity – sending crews to outages and other problems on the energy grid, determining needed materials and choreographing a fine-tuned dance of moving crews from location to location during major storms.
Walthall and her colleague, Jim Turner have been trading off working a two-week sequestered rotation. Walthall was part of the first wave of employees to be sequestered on March 20 and Turner relieved her the first week of April. To keep everything running smoothly – when sequestered, they work a split shift from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and spend their off hours isolated in a nearby hotel with no direct contact with their families or friends.
Walthall said her daughters, ages 16, 19 and 27, have been very supportive of her sequestration. They Facetime each other to keep in touch.
Turner also has three children at home, ages 6, 8 and 11. He said sequestration has been hard on his wife, who is home taking care of their young kids – but during his “off” weeks – he is home and gives her a break.
No matter what, Walthall said she is committed to showing up every day to encourage her team during these unprecedented times. When asked what’s keeping her encouraged, she said – it’s her faith.
“At the end of the day most of all, I trust my God, stay prayed up and do everything with a smile because I know my God has an even greater plan,” said Walthall.