Rob McClendon: Well, with the dramatic growth
of wind towers across the state, there is an ever-growing demand for workers to service
them. And here to tell us more about the training it takes to get inside this lucrative career
is our Andy Barth. Andy Barth: Well, Rob, the wind industry is
sweeping down the plains as wind turbines multiply on a daily basis. And with this rapid
growth, more jobs are now available, but the training is intense. These massive towers
can reach as high as 350 feet, and the only way to the top is straight up.
Andy Barth: We see them everywhere, wind turbines. They line the horizon like telephone poles
along the road. But it’s what is inside these giant structures that most people aren’t aware
of, a straight climb to the top. Sean Hughes is a wind tower instructor at Canadian Valley
Technology Center and says this industry is very beneficial.
Sean Hughes: It’s really good for Oklahoma. As sending people out to the workforce, then
we begin to train them. They come in here, you know maybe working a dead-end job, and
then they get to go out and get a career in a good field. I mean I was in the field for
four-plus years, and I really enjoyed it. It’s good for your family, and, I mean, it’s
good for the workforce in Oklahoma. Andy: An essential part of the training is
learning how to safely rescue a climber, no matter how high they are.
Hughes: Most of these wind farms are in rural areas. You know, fire departments are going
to go up these towers. They are a bunch of volunteers, so as you can train a employee
to go out here and do a rescue, you know, great. It gives them a better chance for the
ambulance to get there, and get them to a hospital where, you know, they have better
care. Andy: Jacob Mersman is a student in the wind
training program and says the wind business is taking off.
Jacob Mersman: I think the wind industry is about to be a really big business. And I heard
about this program, and I hear it’s one of the best. So I decided to do what I could
to get in. Andy: And for Mersman, he hopes to climb the
career ladder. Mersman: I’m hoping this can be my only career
for the rest of my life. So far I love everything about it, and I couldn’t see myself doing
anything else. Andy: Practical training for real-life applications.
Hughes: It’s very realistic. I mean, the ones in the field are a little bigger, but same
thing going on. You’re putting your machine up, you’re bringing a guy up, and you’re sending
him down. It’s the same exact thing that you would go through in the field.
Andy: Powering our world one step at a time. Andy Barth: Now, the American wind power has
blown through a historic milestone. The American wind energy association announced the u s
now has a 50 gigawatt electric generating capacity. And with this capacity matching
that of nuclear energy, wind power is becoming a reliable source of energy generation.
Rob: So Andy I have to ask, I saw you shoot guys going up and coming down. Did you join
in? Andy: You know, Rob, I did. And as a person
who is not a fan of heights, I was pretty shaky. And not only that, the gentlemen who
climb these ladders go through intense strength training just to make the 350-foot ladder
climb. Now, myself, I didn’t have that training, and because of the climb that I had to make,
even though it was only 150 feet, my arms were so sore the next day, I really couldn’t
use them. Rob: Well, it sounds like quite an adventure.
Thank you for doing this story. Now, if you want to see another white-knuckled climb up
one of these towers, just head to our website at okhorizon.com, where you can see if our
Alisa Hines was any braver strapped in on top of a turbine.