RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Power linemen are the people we turn to to keep power flowing to our homes, and now there's a couple dozen more of them ready for hire.
The Kilgore College Electric Power Technology Program has trained another batch of linemen, and they did it at their brand new training field. In fact, they held a ribbon cutting for it just before the lineman rodeo. The students are tested and show off their skills to perspective employers who were in attendance.
Kilgore College and instructor Robert Bryson put a lot of thought into the new training field.
"There won't be a better one in the nation like this. This was based upon many, many years of experience building fields and training so we accumulated all that information and we're going to bring it all together right here in Kilgore," Bryson said.
They even have short poles for an easier learning experience, but this rodeo's all about getting to the top of the big guys to do proper grounding, change an insulator and rescue an injured man.
Dakota Emerson came from Huntington to learn the ropes, and yes, he has heard the song "Wichita Lineman".
"It's like your theme song now," I offered.
"Might as well be," Emerson laughed.
All events are timed. They have four minutes to rescue a man who had electrical shock, because in four minutes:
"You begin to get some brain damage," Bryson explained.
Chad Bouren came from Farmington New Mexico to save a man and beat the clock.
"You've got a man's life on the line. What's most important is your life and his life. He wants to go to his family just as much as you want to go home to yours," Bouren stated.
He shouted to the man on the way up.
"You want to make sure they know that you're coming to get them," Bouren relayed.
"We consider ourselves the first responder's first responders," Bryson stated.
The victim has to be on the ground before EMS can help. Emerson and Bouren were both timed around 1:20, scoring them each a 100.
They scored high on the other events as well. It was the largest graduating class ever held at Kilgore College, and the first appearance for The Linemen.
"And the East Texas Lineman is still on the line!" they sang.
Nearly 100 percent of graduates end up being hired, some have deals set up before they graduate. The new field has allowed them to increase the class size from 24 to 30.