You never know how much you depend on them – until they’re not there anymore.

South Dakota is experiencing some difficulty retaining experienced and recruiting new volunteer firefighters, at a time when calls are on the increase.   How serious is this?  South Dakota leans heavily on its volunteer firefighting teams. A recent story in the Rapid City Journal reports that “…only five of the 337 fire departments in the state are not fully or partially staffed by volunteers.”

You can read the whole story here:

The men and women who answer the call for volunteer fire protection cannot be over-praised.   They can, however, be overworked.

What can you do about helping them?

One way is by calling South Dakota One Call before you dig.  Blindly cutting into a buried gas or electrical line is a preventable error.   A simple, free call to 811 to have buried utilities marked or flagged prior to a dig helps prevent accidents that could quickly become serious or life-threatening.

Your volunteer firefighters put their lives on the line every time they answer a call.  While some emergencies can’t be helped, a 911 call for a ruptured and flaring pipeline that could have been prevented with a free call to 811 is inexcusable.

How much of a difference can you make?  Here’s another item from the story above:  “Of the 337 fire departments in South Dakota, 325 are completely volunteer and seven are a combination of paid and volunteer firefighters.”

A volunteer firefighter often works a paying job and drops tools when the alarm is sounded.  So if you cut a gas line because you didn’t call 811, you’re also impacting their employers –it’s truly a domino effect.

So – give a thought to all of those who wear the Nomex® bunker gear and carry Scott SCBA air packs on their backs; the ones who rush into burning buildings when others are running out, the ones who head toward danger when others are leaving the scene.

Call 811 first.

Because it’s not just your life you’re gambling with if you don’t.

Until next time, safe digging!

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That last bit of snow over the weekend was fun, wasn’t it?   Everybody raise your hands!

March apparently wasn’t done with us, dumping at least a half foot of snow on the ground in some places.  Brookings is estimated to have gotten six inches, while another three fell on Sioux Falls.

While it does seem that winter will never end, I can assure you that brighter days are coming.

So – in promise of those brighter days, ignore the late snow and pay attention!

It’s the time of year when South Dakotans are thinking about outside activities.   Home and garden shows are thriving, your local nursery has a gazillion plants on sale, and every empty flower pot you own is begging for a new resident.

At South Dakota One Call, we say good for you!   And – bonus points – planting in a flower pot does NOT require a call to 811 first!


If you are going full out landscaping and tearing up the yard, PLEASE do make the free call to 811.   Don’t go digging up trouble.   Nothing puts the hex on a beautiful spring like cutting through a fiber optic cable or nicking a gas line.  One simple call, and within 48 hours underground utilities are flagged so you know what’s below.

No doubt you’ve already seen the tiny marker flags sprouting all over South Dakota (until the snow buried them) as builders and contractors began throwing dirt.  That means calls to 811 have been made to ensure safe digging with no nasty surprises – and if the professional excavators make the call, that’s all the more reason that weekend warriors should, too!

Because while late season snows may be upsetting, damaging an underground utility line or cable will REALLY give you something to cry about!

Until next week, safe digging!

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It’s only March, but you can get that first whiff of spring in the air – and that means your Sioux Falls Canaries will soon be back in action on the baseball diamond!  The first game is set for May 18th against the Sioux City Explorers.

Baseball heralds the arrival of warmer weather – and in South Dakota, warmer weather heralds the arrival of excavation season.  At South Dakota One Call, we want you to have a great season with no errors, so when you get up to bat on your digging project, make sure you put that call into the bullpen:  811!

811 is your ace pitcher, your ace closer, your utility infielder, your RBI champion!

Before too long, you’ll see multi-colored utility locator flags popping up out of the ground like so many flowers.  Do you know what they mean?  Here’s the American Public Works Association color code chart for buried utilities.  Like a catcher’s hand signals to the pitcher, every color has a meaning.

Using South Dakota One Call is easier than standing in the 7th inning stretch!   Call us at 811, visit us online at  or use one of our mobile apps. Excavators planning to dig, drill or trench should make the required locate request to South Dakota 811 two working days before the planned work. Homeowners and landowners planning their own excavation activities are required to notify South Dakota 811 as well.

Also, just as baseball has winter meetings, we are having our spring damage prevention meetings for professional excavators and facility operators!   You can get more information, locations and times here:

When the Canaries throw out that first pitch, you know you’ll be cheering them on – and you’ll be enjoying the game even more because you know you’re doing your part to keep South Dakota’s underground infrastructure safe by calling 811!

Until next time, safe digging!

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A recent story in the Rapid City Journal says that tech-saavy young millenial drivers are the most unsafe, according to the American Automobile Association.

“In a report released this month by AAA, young millennial drivers were found to engage in the riskiest driving behavior of any age group, with 88 percent of 19- to 24-year-olds admitting they had exhibited at least one risky driving behavior in the past 30 days, such as speeding, running red lights or using a cellphone while driving. The report was based on a survey of 2,511 licensed drivers ages 16 and older.”

You can read the full story here in the Rapid City Journal on-line edition:

Many of the complaints centered around using a cell phone while driving – something you should never do.  Find a place to pull off the road – a parking lot for instance – and catch up on what you need to do.   Many drivers now use a Bluetooth connection for hands free talking on the phone, including dialing up the number; still, that means paying attention to your driving.

South Dakota One Call welcomes your calls for underground utility locate requests.  However, we would prefer it if you made them from a non-moving vehicle!   The same goes for logging onto our portal from your smart phone.  Please don’t do this from a moving vehicle.

A report last week by the National Safety Council showed the number of motor vehicle deaths in 2016 in the United States was 40,200, a 6 percent increase from 2015. In 2015, U.S. traffic deaths rose more than 7 percent, the largest single-year increase in more than 50 years, according to AAA.

South Dakota, on the other hand, had just 116 traffic fatalities in 2016, a decrease of 13 percent from 133 fatalities in 2015.

At South Dakota One Call, we want to keep that ball rolling.   Here’s information from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

“In South Dakota, the use of handheld electronic wireless communication device for text-based communication on highways is prohibited. Among the exceptions is when the driver is contacting any emergency public safety answering point or dispatch center. Violation of the law is a secondary, petty offense.

“The Department of Public Safety, including its individual agencies of the Office of Highway Safety and the Highway Patrol, have made distracted driving a priority safety issue. Officials have used promotional and educational efforts as ways to remind drivers not to get distracted by cell phones and other devices, not to drink and drive and always use a seatbelt.”

To all of which we agree. We want you to continue to use 811 for damage prevention!   Just call 811 or log onto the South Dakota One Call site at for more information.   It’s a free service, and getting those underground utilities located prior to a dig is also free.  Why wouldn’t you call?

Just not from a moving vehicle, please!


Until next time, safe digging!

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Just Like Clockwork



I was fortunate enough recently to take in a Cirque du Soleil show.   If you’ve never seen one, take advantage of it the next time they are in Sioux Falls!

The shows defy description – the costumes, the makeup, and of course the performers who do such acrobatic things with their bodies that you expect SpiderMan to come swinging in from the rafters at any moment.

And believe me, old Spidey would be completely outclassed by the performers under the big top.

Watching this show, I was struck by how precisely and perfectly coordinated every move is – no wasted effort anywhere.

It’s kind of like what you get when you call 811.  Our Damage Prevention Agents take your call and go through a very precise list of questions with you.  The ultimate goal of this q/a session is to leave no stone unturned before the information is turned over to the relevant utilities that have buried infrastructure in your dig area.

The next step in the link is notifying said utilities.  That happens immediately.  The utilities then have 48 hours to get out and mark or flag the location of their pipes and cables.   Weekends and holidays are excepted.  A call at two pm on Friday has a deadline of two pm the following Tuesday.   A call at two pm on Monday has a deadline of two pm on Wednesday.

Line locators show up to find and flag what’s underground.  The colors of the paint or flag denote the kind of line that’s buried beneath.   Here’s a look at what those colors mean:

Finally, this clockwork movement circles back around to you.   But before you put that backhoe into the ground, use a shovel and hand dig carefully down to expose the lines below.  Then, exercise care and caution when using your mechanized equipment.  Respect the dig, don’t be in a rush, and before you know it you’re done and ready for your next job.

You’re not a high-flying acrobatic performer and there’s no need for you to do your job without a safety net – you have one!

Always call South Dakota 811 before you dig!

Until next week, safe digging!

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811 and CPR


The Rapid City Journal reports that a bill requiring CPR training for all South Dakota high school students has been filed for consideration in the state legislature.

Senate Bill 140 is a proposal to require all South Dakota high school students to take a course in “hands only” cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, prior to graduation. Students would also receive instruction in the use of automated external defibrillators, or AEDS.

The bill’s sponsors cite information from the American Heart Association that is frightening:  it takes an average of 10 minutes for a first-responder to arrive to an emergency after dialing 911 in South Dakota.  In rural areas, it can take even longer.

You can read the entire article here:

CPR training is something everyone should know – just as everyone should know to always call 811 before they dig. At South Dakota 811, safety always comes first.  Did you know that on average an underground line is hit every six minutes in the United States?

Many of those incidents could have been prevented had the excavator only made the call to 811 first.

At South Dakota 811, we’ll take down your dig information, plot your geographic location and then make sure all the utilities in the area get the message so they can come out and mark or flag the location of their buried infrastructure.

Hitting a gas line or ripping out telecommunications or electrical cables is probably one of the worst ways to ruin your day.  In fact, it probably runs a close second to having a heart attack and having no one around who knows how to perform CPR.

And did you know?  You can do CPR on your cat or dog, too.

So –

Learn CPR and ALWAYS call 811 before you dig!

Until next week, safe digging!

by Scott Finley

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How about that?   First ever overtime game, largest come from behind victory in Super Bowl history and lest we forget, first quarterback to win five Super Bowl rings.   You can just call them Brady’s Bunch.

The Atlanta Falcons were certainly riding high at halftime.   But – that’s why they call it halftime.  There’s still another half to be played, and the Falcons certainly got played by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  The Falcons appeared to have taken for granted that their halftime lead was insurmountable and nothing could happen.


We get the same thing sometimes at South Dakota 811.   “Oh, I know where those pipes are buried.”  “I remember when they put in those lines years ago, I can dig around them.”

Wrong again.

Just as the Falcons learned, you can never take anything for granted. That’s why it’s so important to call 811 before you dig.  All it takes is five minutes to speak with an agent on the phone, or enter your own locate request through the South Dakota 811 portal.    Within 48 hours, the locations of those buried lines are marked or flagged.  And remember, while getting a flag in a football game is a bad thing, getting a flag before you dig is a good thing!

While the quarterback provides communication to his offense about the play they are going to execute next, South Dakota 811 provides communication between excavators and underground facility operators so buried utilities can be marked in advance of any digging.

And just like Tom Brady following the playbook for that game winning two yard touchdown run, following the South Dakota 811 procedure works to reduce damages to underground infrastructure, helps to ensure public and worker safety, and protects the integrity of utility services.

And for you Falcons fans….well, the 2017 training camp starts in July.

Until next time, safe digging!


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History tells us people have lived in what is now South Dakota for several thousand millenium.  Truth be told, most of that time was spent without having an 811 system in place.  What happened in those intervening years?

The Louis and Clark expedition passed through the area on their return trip in 1806.  70 years later, Custer was wiped out at Little Big Horn.  In 1927, work began on Mount Rushmore.  (It was finished in 1941)

And all of that was done without the presence of South Dakota 811.  Were they lucky they didn’t hit a buried line or what?

Today, according to the South Dakota Oil and Gas Association, there are about 6500 miles of pipeline crossing the state.

As of the latest reported numbers, South Dakota has an estimated population of 858,469.

That works out to about 132 miles of pipeline per person.

Factor in the buried telecommunications, water, sewer and electric pipes and cables, and the ratio of buried utilities to people goes even higher.

Keeping all of this underground infrastructure safe is the job of South Dakota One Call – also known as South Dakota 811.

For the sake of anyone who was at Little Big Horn or working on the Mount Rushmore National Monument and missed it, South Dakota 811 provides for communication between excavators and underground facility operators so buried utilities can be marked in advance of any digging. South Dakota 811 works to reduce damages to underground infrastructure, helps to ensure public and worker safety and protects the integrity of utility services.

It’s so simple, too.   Just call 811 or log onto the South Dakota 811 site at for more information.   It’s a free service, and getting those underground utilities located prior to a dig is also free.  Why wouldn’t you call?

Think about it.  Custer didn’t call 811, and look what happened to him!

Until next time, safe digging!

By Scott Finley

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Almost Super



The teams are set.  The New England Patriots will square off against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in Houston on February 5th.


This will be the second appearance in the big game by the Falcons.   They made it to the show 18 years ago but were beaten by the defending champion Denver Broncos.


For the Patriots, this is a record NINTH trip, and the 7th (also an individual coaching record) for coach Bill Belichick.  The Patriots to date have won four of those games.


The Patriots’ relentless advance to the upcoming Super Bowl is made all the more legendary because quarterback Tom Brady had to sit out the first four games of the current season for his role in the so-called “DeflateGate” scandal in the AFC championship game in January of 2015.


So there you have it.  Two teams, almost super.   One of them will go on to super fame in February.  The other – will go home.


What does it take to be super?  At South Dakota 811 we can give you some answers.










Each of those plays a role in making an organization super.   At South Dakota 811, we’re dedicated to providing our members and the public with the absolute best service, bar none.  Damage Prevention Agents who you talk with on the phone are graduates of an intensive training course, and are always being evaluated and updated.


Innovation plays a big role, too – from our proprietary GeoCall® software to our web portal for easier ticket submission.


Our people and our passion go hand in hand. Everyone at South Dakota 811 has a passion for doing things right and making the excavating world a safer place.


There are many more things that go into making an organization super, but you get the idea.  Super doesn’t just happen.  It’s a continuous process of improvement.   Our goal is to be super not on just one day, but every single day, 365 days a year.


Until next week, safe digging!

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Folding The Tents


You’ve probably all heard the phrase “folding the tent.”  It means packing up and moving on – or, in extreme cases, shutting down forever.  In the case of one American institution, it means the latter.

After 146 years of spills, thrills, chills and laughter, the world famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus – the self-proclaimed “Greatest Show on Earth” – is taking down its big top tent pole.  The last shows will be in May.

Circus chairman and CEO Kenneth Feld issued this statement:

“After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year. Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.”

We’ll leave the circus’ dealing with animal rights activists and the story of the retiring of their famous elephants to others.  And while there’s no doubt that it costs a LOT of money to move the circus (there are actually two of them, each one touring the nation by a special train) there were other mitigating circumstances as well.

Public tastes have changed drastically.  The circus is a quaint reminder of an America gone by.  Instead,  the acrobatic Cirque du Soleil shows pack in the crowds.   Kids are more interested in their iPads and iPhones and video games.   There is, simply put, a lot more competition for a family’s entertainment dollar now than ever before – and a shorter attention span to go with it.   Increased technological advances are reshaping the face of America.  If you don’t keep up, you get left behind.

At South Dakota 811, we know that what the public wants – and what our members want – are fast and accurate locate tickets.

To that end, we continue to invest in game changing technology and updates to our system.

Whether you’re filing a ticket electronically through our Portal located on our website at , or over the phone with a Damage Prevention Agent, you can rest assured that South Dakota 811 has the most up-to-date, accurate and fastest-moving one call system on earth!

Until next week, safe digging!

By Scott Finley

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