OPPD line workers fixed broken electrical equipment, swapped out parts on power poles and even conducted a rescue Saturday as dozens of spectators stared up at them and judges with stopwatches scrutinized their every move.
It was all a simulation, of course, and a good test of skills for the five OPPD line workers who competed in the American Public Power Association’s annual Lineworkers Rodeo in Kansas City, Kansas.
The event gives public power line workers a chance to show off their skills in front of family and friends and to inspire young people to join the profession. It’s also a way to celebrate and recognize the importance of public power.
“The team did an excellent job of representing OPPD,” said Lee O’Neal, the utility’s senior director of Operations Support.
Participants have the opportunity to network with their peers, check out new tools on display and learn from others. Journeyman and apprentice line workers compete for professional recognition, attend training and practice essential skills in a safe environment. Hundreds of teams from across the country participated.
Each team worked through gusty winds and temperatures in the mid-30s the morning of the competition, the kind of conditions that OPPD crews routinely face on the job.
Featured events included a double dead end insulator change-out, cross-arm and cutout relocations, a written test and the “hurt man rescue,” which uses a dummy to simulate an injured coworker dangling helplessly from a pole. Journeyman were required to change insulators, repair simulated storm damage and swap out transformers, among other challenges.
OPPD’s journeyman team completed the rodeo’s “hurt man” drill in a blistering 1 minute, 19 seconds. Their time was less than 17 seconds behind the top competitor.
OPPD officials who assisted with the event said they were proud of the team.
“They did well and had a good time,” said Aaron Mercer, manager of OPPD’s Transmission & Distribution Center.
The rodeo featured a Saturday evening banquet to celebrate all public power line workers and recognize winners in each competition. OPPD participates in similar rodeos throughout the year, including the International Lineman’s Rodeo & Expo and the Nebraska Lineworkers’ Rodeo.
OPPD’s journeyman team included Line Technicians Brent Sass and Ted Gyhra and Troubleshooter Brent Foxhoven. Line Technician Tony Liston served as a backup for the journeyman team. Richard Terrian, also a line technician, competed in the rodeo’s apprentice events, while Chad Metschke, another line technician, served as a competition judge. Line Technician Aaron Prohaska helped the team prepare for events and assisted with logistics and planning.
Other OPPD employees also aided the team, including Mercer; O’Neal; Brian Kramer, senior director of Utility Operations Maintenance & Construction; Ernie Ross, lead safety specialist; and Troy Via, chief operating officer and vice president of Utility Operations.
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