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Snow adds layer of learning for climbing 40-foot electrical poles

Posted at 8:20 PM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 21:20:41-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While many have grown tired of dealing with snow this year, the winter weather is providing learning experiences for some classes and educational programs around the metro.

At Metropolitan Community College, 40 students worked outside in the elements on Tuesday as part of a electrical lineman program.

The classes, which will lead to the students obtaining a certificate to further pursue apprenticeships, started last June for the current group and will go until this spring.

For instructor Susan Blaser, who has worked as a lineman for the last 30 years, the time outside in the cold provided a realistic view for what some of them may experience moving forward.

“This year and this winter have given them a really good example on how to work in the weather,” she said. “These are real world conditions.”

With snow still blanketing the ground and cold temperatures greeting them, the students practiced climbing up and down 40-foot electrical poles on Tuesday.

The work can be grueling at times and Blaser told 41 Action News that safety is always a top priority for any lesson.

“We watch how we move around in the snow. If the pole has ice on it, we actually climb on the side with the ice so that our hooks break it,” she said. “We try to do everything in a safe pace. We wear a lot of layers. We take turns so that people don’t get too cold.”

This time next year, some of the students in the program could be working full-time out in the field.

For 22-year-old student Jet Vasquez, the classes served as great preparation for the career.

“I love learning hands-on. I was looking into this when I was in high school,” he said. “It’s a big opportunity for us. Just to get the hands-on and learn in the environment.”

With the winter continuing in the metro, Vasquez said he planned to keep making sure to stay warm during the class time outside.

“It’s tough. It’s cold,” he said. “You got to dress up in layers.”

The program will continue on until May.

Until then, Susan Blaser said she looked forward to preparing the students to be future electrical linemen.

“If this is the weather Kansas City is going to give us then we all need to learn to work within those perimeters,” she said.

For more information on the MCC electric linemen program, visit this link.