Lining up the competition

Airman Francis Mouawad ascends a telephone pole to rescue an electrocution “victim” during the semi-annual Student Lineman’s Rodeo at the 366th Training Squadron Saturday. Airman Mouawad was the overall winner of the rodeo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Jacob Corbin).

Airman Francis Mouawad ascends a telephone pole to rescue an electrocution “victim” during the semi-annual Student Lineman’s Rodeo at the 366th Training Squadron Saturday. Airman Mouawad was the overall winner of the rodeo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Jacob Corbin).

Navy Seaman David Lechelt changes out a lightning arrestor during the Student Lineman’s Rodeo Saturday. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Jacob Corbin).

Navy Seaman David Lechelt changes out a lightning arrestor during the Student Lineman’s Rodeo Saturday. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Jacob Corbin).

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A young lineman sprints up the 30-foot wooden pole; his only goal is to rescue his comrade. Another lineman came afoul of the high voltage that is a lineman's stock-and-trade and hangs limp from the harness that keeps him safe.

The would-be-rescuer knows he only has four minutes before his friend is doomed, four minutes until their brain is affected. Deftly the lineman ties his friend off and secures his path down before cutting the life-saving harness and slowly lowering the injured man to safety.

Luckily, this wasn't a life and death situation, it was the fifth year of the semi-annual Lineman's Rodeo at Sheppard. The "hero" was merely practicing his skills and putting them up against his fellow classmates.

Airman Francis Mouawad of the 366th Training Squadron was the overall winner of the rodeo.

Here are the winners of the individual events:

Airman Mouawad won in the hurt-man rescue and lightning arrestor events.
Seamen Apprentice Daniel Kooi, of the Navy Seabee Detachment, was the winner in the knot tying event.

Seamen Recruit Andrew Kaufold, also from the Navy Seabee Det., scored highest in the written test.

Airman 1st Class Gage Bowder, from the 366th TRS, was the fastest in the speed climb event.

The semi-annual competition is held near the end of the five-month long class apprentice lineman attend. It tests their knowledge in five categories, based upon the knowledge they've received since attending the course.

"This (the rodeo) brings out the camaraderie amongst the lineman," said Maj. Charles Slaby of the 366th TRS. "It gives the students the chance to practice and show off what they've learned."

Each event-winner is awarded points based on their skill and technique. In the event of a tie, the winner is selected based on time.

In the lightning arrestor change out, the lineman must move a lightning arrestor from one side of the pole to the other.

The arrestor is a device that helps draw a lightning strike away from the line and into the ground, said Master Sgt. Dan Polk, an instructor with the 366th TRS.

"We're looking for proper work positions," Sergeant Polk said. "They're moving the arrestor from one side to the other."

According to Major Slaby the written test covers "the written aspects of going through the procedures," as well as the knowledge they've learned in the course.

In the hurt-man rescue contestants attempt to "rescue" a dummy from the top of a 30-foot power pole. This event requires the lineman too ascend the 30 feet, secure a rope to the dummy and the pole, cut the harness and lower the dummy to safety.

The knot-tying event consisted of the participants tying five knots as fast and accurately as possible, the lineman's knot, square knot, half-hitch knot, hitch knot and the bowline knot.

The rodeo is based loosely off the international rodeo which features similar events, said Major Slaby.

"They're all (the events) based off of the normal every day skills they have and things they do on the job," Maj. Slaby said.

Sheppard also hosts a Lineman's Rodeo for permanent party units, which tests the skills and knowledge that journeyman linemen and above possess.