Insights > Boot Camp Prepares New Lineworkers for Record-Setting Storm Challenges
Boot Camp Prepares New Lineworkers for Record-Setting Storm Challenges
New apprentices join the company’s line crews in Mississippi and Louisiana
Since graduating from Lineworker’s Boot Camp last August, Entergy’s newest apprentices have participated in some of the most challenging service-restoration efforts in company history, including devastating hurricanes in Louisiana and, more recently, a winter storm in Mississippi.
For Entergy Mississippi’s Glen Hegwood, they were valuable learning opportunities that helped him build on the skills he learned in boot camp while reinforcing safety and teamwork.
“During storm response, we got to do a lot of work that we normally don’t get to do,” said Hegwood, who’s based in Indianola. “I learned a lot from working with other Entergy crews, and it was a good feeling to get the lights back on and see the thankfulness of customers.”
After Hurricane Zeta struck Louisiana in November, he spent nearly two weeks in New Orleans helping rebuild the distribution system and restore power for customers. On outage call-outs last month during the winter storm, he wore ice cleats on his boots and helped install tire chains on service vehicles — two firsts for the new lineman.
“I was 1 year old during the ice storm of 1994, so I’d never seen anything like it,” he said. “Driving on ice was really hard, and we had to knock the ice off lines before we worked on them. There were a lot of lines down because of the ice.”
Hegwood was one of six recruits from Mississippi and Louisiana who graduated from 2020 Lineworker’s Boot Camp, a 12-week training program that introduces new hires to the fundamentals of line work and safety.
From L to R: David Robinson of Bastrop, Louisiana; Michael Davis of Jonesboro, Louisiana; Glen Hegwood of Indianola, Mississippi; Ja’Darius Payne of Magee, Mississippi; and Jeremy Turner of McComb, Mississippi. Not pictured: Dustin Becton of West Monroe, Louisiana.
Trainees learn through classroom instruction and practice on real, but unenergized, equipment at Entergy’s Knowledge and Skills Training Center in Clinton, Mississippi. Boot camp is followed by a four-year apprenticeship before earning the designation of journeyman lineworker.
A key skill all boot campers learn is how to climb a pole using “hooks” (spikes mounted on their boot insteps) and a Buck Squeeze, a fall-protection belt that wraps around the pole.
“As a kid, I’d see linemen climbing poles and I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” said Hegwood, who first learned to climb a pole through the Electrical Utility Lineman Program at Mississippi Delta Community College. He said Entergy’s boot camp deepened his appreciation for safety.
“We focus so much on safety, and it’s not hard to abide by those rules,” he said. “Using fall protection correctly, learning how to work with another guy to make sure your feet are in the right position, not rushing and paying attention to the small things are necessary for your own safety and to keep others safe.”
“Looking out for each other is also about sharing knowledge and information,” Hegwood said. “Listening and learning from the guys who have been working as linemen for a long time helps me do my job better. And maybe I’ll be able to pass it along to someone else one day.”
In January, Entergy enhanced its lineworker training program with the opening of a Center of Excellence at the KAST Center, which serves as a high-tech training facility focused on new equipment and modern technologies. The first boot camp using the COE model is now underway and will finish in early April.
Mississippi boot campers who graduated with Hegwood last August were Ja’Darius Payne of Magee and Jeremy Turner of McComb. Louisiana graduates were Dustin Becton of West Monroe, Michael Davis of Jonesboro, and David “Rance” Robertson of Bastrop.
Trainees were hired to fill openings in their specific locations – usually their hometowns --- throughout the Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Mississippi service territories. Anyone interested in a job at Entergy should check employment opportunities at jobs.entergy.com.