CoServ linemen gear up for Texas Lineman’s Rodeo
It’s a crisp March morning in the CoServ training yard as several dozen linemen – young apprentices and experienced journeymen –huddle around CoServ Operations Manager Andrew Pierce.
Harnesses, hooks and insulated gloves are strewn about. Bucket trucks idle. A 180-pound mannequin hangs from the top of a pole. The nervousness is palpable –only the best will represent CoServ at the 27th annual Texas Lineman’s Rodeo July 13-16 at Nolte Island in Seguin.
Andrew explains the events, including insulator and jumper change outs – both fairly common occurrences when there’s a power outage in the real world. Then there’s the hurt man rescue, which simulates a lineman who has been electrocuted and is still strapped in 30 feet up on the pole – a scenario linemen are tested on each year, but never want to experience.
Apprentice Lineman Josh Roberts has been soaking in tips and tricks from the more experienced linemen as he tries to make the team for the first time. There’s bragging rights and pride on the line, in addition to the privilege to represent CoServ.
“It’s a little bit nerve racking at first because we’ve got guys who have been there before and this is my second year of line work,” Josh said. “But as soon as you go up, the nervous feelings go away.”
Apprentice Lineman John Payne is vying for his second year on the CoServ lineman team.
“I’ve got a little bit of rodeo experience from last year and it’s really anybody’s game down here,” John said. “Overall, it’s really great camaraderie going down there and getting to meet other guys from other utilities and figuring out how everything works around the state. It’s just going to come down to who can work the fastest and who studied the hardest.”
The veterans, like Journeyman Lineman Justin Brown, are methodical in how they prepare for events with their team.
“Every little thing needs to be communicated between each other and the guy on the ground,” Justin said. “We’re hoping to win. I would like to win an overall trophy and get those bragging rights and I would like to win an individual trophy.”
Every second counts during a power outage. But most importantly, the professionalism, preparation and safety they practice for the rodeo could save their life or that of their coworker in the real world.
These days it’s rare for linemen to climb a pole because they have bucket trucks. Especially if the circuit is still energized. However, there are times when they can’t get a bucket truck to the pole, if it’s in someone’s backyard or the ground is too muddy. That’s why it’s critical that linemen always be in shape and ready to strap on the hooks.
“It is fun to compete but also it’s good to know when you have outages how to do these tasks,” Justin said. “During a recent thunderstorm, we had a cross arm changeout in the middle of the night where we had to climb a pole in the rain. So, it’s important to know you can do that.”