Tower tech training
As wireless technology continues to expand and evolve, the need for maintenance and upgrades on cell phone towers continues to grow.
A local wireless provider showed us how it wants to make sure its tower technicians stay safe high above the ground.
Over the past few weeks, tower technicians with Nsight, the parent company of Cellcom, underwent some extremely important training.
"Our folks on towers work in rural areas and they're pretty much on their own out there. If you have an episode where you need to get somebody off a tower, if they become disabled, you can't call 911 and have somebody show up real fast, so we have to take care of ourselves," Terry Birk, Nsight's director of operations, said.
The three-day training program takes place in the classroom and in the field.
"We talk about rigging and ropes and even knot-tying, how to use the equipment. They go through several examples. Technicians are allowed to ask plenty of questions, and then in the afternoons they do practicals, everybody goes out and practices, we get on the towers, everybody is rescued and everybody performs as a victim," Birk described.
Nsight's tower technicians carry a harness and safety gear weighing roughly 20 pounds.
The company prefers the techs work in crews of four -- and there's always a need for more technicians.
"It's a very busy field right now, obviously with all the technology going on, and it's hard to find good recruits, so we are constantly looking," Birk said.
After completing the training, the technicians receive a two-year safety certification
Birk says while climbing the towers -- sometimes 500 feet above the ground -- is just part of the job, there is no room for error.
"It's very serious business, and we take it very seriously, but it's also 100 percent safe if you follow the procedures 100 percent of the time," Birk said. "And we live safety."
"I'd like to think the most dangerous part is driving to the site, not the work we do."