I was fortunate to be able to attend the Indiana Electric Cooperative Lineman Rodeo this year. This is a new event in our area that is arranged by Indiana Electric Cooperatives, or IEC for short. IEC represents 38 member cooperatives in Indiana and we are a member. In its second year, the Lineman Rodeo took place Aug. 24–25 at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds in Danville.
We did not have any participants in last year’s rodeo, but we did have four linemen enter this year. There are both individual and team events at the competition. We had Craig Smart, our line foreman, participate in the individual events and a trio of linemen entered the team events. Adam Black, Braden Mattocks and Michael Witvoet are all journeymen linemen here at Jasper County REMC.
The rodeo allowed the linemen to showcase some of the skills they use on the job. Our linemen are used to working in all types of weather throughout the year, but let’s just say it was a hot couple of days and they had on long-sleeved shirts and pants. The weather definitely added to the degree of difficulty.
There were multiple utility poles set up for different skill challenges at the event. These stations involved many different scenarios, such as climbing a pole and then changing a dusk-to-dawn light from one side of the pole to the other. Another station involved changing a pole-mounted transformer. This is one of the events that our team participated in and it involved one team member climbing the pole. The two other linemen were on the ground and they had to communicate and work as a team to get a bad transformer to the ground and then hoist a new transformer up in the air to be installed and connected. Our team performed well, and they now have this experience to grow upon should they decide to participate again next year.
The participants are judged on their speed, safety and accuracy. One of the events that Smart participated in is called the “Hurt Man Rescue.” This event simulates a fellow lineworker in distress and the goal is to climb the pole, simulate de-energizing the transformer, rig a rope around the “hurt man” and then lower them to the ground. Smart performed this task well and finished in third place in the Senior Journeyman division. After participating in the Security Light Repair, Insulator Changeout and Hurt Man Rescue competitions, Smart also earned a third-place finish overall in the Senior Journeyman division. He brought home some nice hardware as well (you can see it in the picture on the following page).
It was nice to see the camaraderie and pride in the trade that all of the linemen displayed at the rodeo. It was just one highlight of this friendly competition, and it should help you understand that our highly trained and talented employees are always up to the challenge!