Today’s lineman is a multitalented professional working in a dangerous environment that requires consistent work practices and a constant focus on safety. With that in mind, linemen must learn to master a wide range of skills to not only perform their everyday duties, but also be readily prepared to act if a bystander or fellow lineman’s life is on the line. A team of linemen from Union Power recently competed in the 17th Annual Gaff-N-Go Lineman’s Rodeo – a competition that allows linemen to showcase many lifesaving skills essential in performing electrical line work.
The Gaff-N-Go Lineman’s Rodeo is sponsored by member-owned electric cooperatives of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware and attracts some of the best linemen from cooperatives, investor-owned utilities, municipals, and contractors from all over the east coast to compete in traditional lineman tasks. But, this event isn’t just about showcasing skills and distinguishing the work of one electric utility from another. The rodeo also highlights the importance of teamwork in performing daily job duties.
Union Power’s Chris Griffin, Justin Trull, Chris Short, Jason Helms, and Jacob Johnson were among 60 journeyman teams and individual apprentices who got a chance to showcase their skills. They participated in events such as The Hurt Man Rescue, where participants simulated an attempt to save the life of someone who has come into contact with an electrical line, the Climbing Skills Demonstration where each climber had to demonstrate the speed and skill needed to climb and maneuver around various obstacles while working safely, and other timed events that challenged their knowledge, agility, and ability to complete tasks as a team successfully.
Each lineman used their personal strength and expertise for the benefit of the team and enjoyed the sense of pulling together to move forward through the competition.
“We all enjoyed participating in the rodeo as a team. It got to a point where you didn’t just depend on yourself, but also your partner to get things done,” Griffin said.
“Yes, it was interesting to see how we started and improved throughout the competition. We were all working towards a shared goal, and it took lots of coordination and cooperation to do that,” Trull agreed.
The team competed in five events and placed seventh in the overall Journeyman competition. They look forward to returning next year and using what they learned this time around to take home the first place prize.
“Since this was our first time competing, we got a lot of ideas on how to strategize and work together better when we come back next year,” Griffin said.
“We learned new ways of doing things,” Short said. “We will take what we learned and apply it in the next competition.”
The Gaff-N-Go Lineman’s Rodeo is a great learning experience and reminder that working as a team to accomplish a common goal is what it takes to be successful in this line of work. The rodeo demonstrated that it takes hard work, focus, dedication, time, and most importantly, teamwork to get the job done.