Working the Line: Jose Salgado and Other JEMC Linemen Share Their Stories
Hoisted 50 feet in the air in a bucket negotiating potentially deadly cables to get your lights back on are your Jackson EMC linemen. They respond to outages caused by storms or squirrels 24/7, 365.
And in the worst of conditions, these “wood walkers,” outfitted with 50 lbs. of tools and safety gear, scale up the poles with a pair of spikes on the sides of their boots.
Listening to a group of linemen talk, you’ll hear about how a crew saved a man’s life who’d crashed into a power pole, turned the lights back on for a family that had been in the dark for weeks, replaced the sod on a customer’s lawn after a truck dug it up and slept alongside a couple hundred men in a gym while restoring power for a community in need. What matters most to them? Family: theirs and yours. Here are some of their stories.
Keith Camp | Journeyman Lineman, Lawrenceville | 17 years at Jackson EMC
Tallest Pole Climbed: 70 ft.
Best Part: Family. You have to trust your brothers, I call them. You have to know that each other knows how to do their part of the job. Not only am I a lineman, but my wife and kids are too. It is a big family thing. I believe my father-in-law didn’t even like me until he found out I was a lineman.
About Storms: When most people are wanting to be inside the comfort of their home, that’s when we do the most work. I knew that when I took this job. When Hurricane Katrina hit we worked to get the power back on for them. To see the gratitude in their eyes and excitement when the lights came on, that was a good feeling.
To members: People really appreciate us: they try to pay us. I tell them, "this is my job and I'm just glad I can help."
Jose Salgado | Journeyman Lineman, Gainesville | 13 years at Jackson EMC
Tallest Pole Climbed: 65 ft.
Best Part: The comradery. When you have kids, everyone knows (Salgado just became a dad for the fourth time).
Working the Line: I get to see the sun set and rise from the top of a pole. And, the stars at night and the satellites so bright in the sky. It is really beautiful. Not everyone gets to see that.
On Climbing: It was scary the first time. I was shaking the whole time.
Rodney Black | Journeyman Lineman, Neese | 25 years at Jackson EMC
Tallest Pole Climbed: 80 ft.
About Storms: Most of the time when I work a storm, the things that run through my mind are my boys. A blizzard hit March 13, 1993; my son was born February 4. I gathered my wife a bunch of firewood, and went to work. I left her at home with no power and a one-month old baby. I can think of maybe once I got to spend any time playing in the snow with my boys, because I was working.
On Climbing: It is natural to have a little fear of heights; everybody does. But, you can't have a drastic fear and do this job. The more you climb the easier it gets.
Jeremiah Nash | Journeyman Lineman, Jefferson | 15 years at Jackson EMC
Tallest Pole Climbed: 60 ft.
Working the Line: When I started they said you’ll learn something new every day; I’m still learning. We tend to be first responders a lot of times because of the kind of job we have. There’s been a couple wrecks where we were one of the first to arrive, and I never thought I’d see that in this job.
About Storms: You never know what you are running into until you get there. We don’t know where we are going to sleep or what we’re going to eat. We went to Louisiana and people had been out for weeks. We got to tell them, “we are getting this power back on today.” That is a great feeling.
On Climbing: A lot of the time we are climbing in the worst conditions, with ice on one side of the pole, or they are leaning due to a storm.
To Customers: If you are on JEMC, you own this company, and I work for you.