Students participate in Kilgore College Lineman Rodeo - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Students participate in Kilgore College Lineman Rodeo

Saving the hurt man is only part of the rodeo. Photo by Jamey Boyum KLTV. Saving the hurt man is only part of the rodeo. Photo by Jamey Boyum KLTV.
RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

It’s rodeo time again, and you may be saying it’s not my first rodeo, but this is a horse of a different color.

Yes, it’s Kilgore College’s Lineman Rodeo where electrical technology students show off their power pole abilities for a grade and employment.

It’s a lineman’s worst case scenario: a man hurt and dangling from a power pole. Students like Nathan Johnson have learned it’s all about safety in a rescue.

“You would think going up that pole, the number one safety is the hurt man, but no. You’ve already got one hurt man, so your number one safety is you,” Johnson said.

So, you have to take your time, but not too much time.

“I got a minute or two. My fastest time is forty-seven seconds. I should have got faster but I was in my head today with all the people here, but a minute or two is still not bad,” Johnson revealed.

He said he had an issue with his pliers. 

“My pliers when I went to cut the dummy down. I was having problems with that and that cost me. Every second counts up there,” Johnson said.

Robert Bryson is the director of Safety and Training at Rusk County Electric and he says the dummy plays an important role.

“One-hundred eighty-five pounds; typical weight of a lineman,” Bryson said.

The students can take up to four minutes and still pass.

“And there’s a reason for that: after four minutes then you start having some brain damage and those kind of things,” Bryson explained.

Of course, that’s a real injured person, not a dummy. The dummies catch a little more abuse than an actual lineman would.

“These guys have been dropped many times,” Bryson admitted.

But they can usually be brought back to their articulated selves.

“This is our seventeenth class; our second set of dummies,” Bryson said.

Even a dummy can only take so much abuse. They hit hard when dropped.

“Does the dummy have a retirement plan at all?” I asked Bryson.

“No retirement plan, no. He just goes away,” Bryson laughed.

Well, you should always have a plan. Nathan does. He’s no dummy.

Nathan had the third fastest time on the rescue and already has two job offers. Starting pay for a lineman ranges from 11-20 dollars an hour.

Bryson says the rescue dummies run about $3,500 each.

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