GREENFIELD, Ind. (AP) - Climbing 30-foot-poles and managing live electric wires, Aaron Hammons and Cody Richey just kind of shrug it off when asked if their job gives them at least a few jitters.
“You can’t worry about that stuff,” Hammons said. “That’s when accidents happen.”
The job definitely isn’t for everyone, and this weekend the pair of apprentice linemen, who work for Greenfield Power & Light, will put their skills of strength, safety and know-how to the test in the Indiana Lineworkers’ Rodeo.
This is the first year the municipal utility has sent competitors to the event, which will be held in Mishawaka. Scott Yost, an 18-year lineman, has been training the pair for the competitions, which he says builds on their skills.
“This is our first year of having our guys involved. I hope it really snowballs,” he told the Daily Reporter (https://bit.ly/1uMfR2F ).
The job of a lineman - which involves tricky work in all sorts of weather at all times of the day - takes fortitude. But it also takes a certain amount of bravery to enter a competition with 40 other linemen from across the state.
“There’s a chance you might not do well, but the camaraderie is awesome,” Yost said. “It’s all positive reinforcement. Nobody gets kicked while they’re down.”
The competitors will do an obstacle course; a hurt-man rescue where they “save” a 180-pound dummy in a simulated electrocution; a rope toss to raise a downed power line; and a service event, to simulate hooking a house up to a power line.
Events are timed and judged for safety and quality. At stake are trophies and a chance to compete at the national level.
Richey and Hammons, who have been practicing for nearly a month at a training field near Park Cemetery, are modest in their outlook on placing. They say they’re just hoping to do their best.
“There’s some guys, they’ve got poles in their back yard and practice,” said Hammons, 27. “I’m just going out there and doing my best.”
Both began working at Greenfield Power & Light after summer internships; Hammons three years ago and Richey a year ago. It’s hard to pinpoint what got them interested in the work, but one thing is certain: They love their jobs.
“You’ve got the adrenaline factor; you have a lot of brotherhood,” said Richey, 25.
Yost said often the community doesn’t realize the type of work utility employees do. They just know if their power is out, they want it restored right away.
Yost, who made up shirts for his competitors that reads “No fear, just respect,” said when people first start the job they can be pretty intimidated by the danger, but training and practice lightens the load.
“You can’t fear it, but you have to respect it,” Yost said. “If you fear it, you’ll get messed up. It’s rewarding work if you can do it, knowing not everyone can do it.”
Information from: (Greenfield) Daily Reporter, https://www.greenfieldreporter.com
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