Power Play: NC linemen work their way to the top

RALEIGH — In less than five minutes, linemen have to radio for help, grab their equipment, suit up, climb an electric pole, save a 105-pound dummy named Kool and perform CPR to remain qualified. At the 15th biennial Pole Top Rescue Competition Sept. 27, 25 linemen were tested on their safety and rescue skills.Kenny Simmons of Pee Dee Electric in Wadesboro won the competition with a time of 1:39.31, winning $1,000.Cory Lawrence of Wake EMC said he has enjoyed participating in the competition to improve his linemen skills.”You can learn something from these guys if you just watch,” Lawrence said. “I’ve learned just little tricks of how they put their straps on and their hooks — all kinds of tricks.”According to Dale Lambert, who was the master of ceremonies and is CEO of Randolph EMC, the technique of the linemen putting on their boots on can make a huge difference.Lawrence received a time of 2:20.5 during the competition.”That’s a pretty good time for me personally,” Lawrence said. “My main thing is no penalties. I try to have a clean run. The first year I came out here I had two penalties, so that’s my focus now.”Lambert said safety has became more of an importance for linemen over the years, which linemen will receive penalties in the competition for not following the correct procedure.”Safety has become much more prominent than it was many years ago when I started,” Lambert said. “We have much better safety equipment than what was available in the past, and our safety regulations are adhered to much more than they were in years past. Safety has become much more paramount.”He said maintaining safety can can prevent the person they are rescuing from getting an additional injury or injuring themselves. The linemen had to take off their spiked boots before performing CPR on Kool.Lambert said another goal of the event is to show the commitment of the linemen.”I hope they see the dedication of our line person and all the co-op employees,” Lambert said. “They are a extremely dedicated group. They are out there whether it is 100 degrees or whether it is 0 degrees. They are out there getting the lights on in all kinds of inclement weather.”The 26 electric cooperatives provide power to about 2.5 million people in 93 North Carolina counties, predominately in rural areas.