- Born in Harlan County, Kentucky, and has one sister and one brother.
- Married to Sasha and has three kids: six-year-old Blakelyn; five-year-old Derringer; and two-year-old Caroline.
- Enjoys spending time outdoors and beekeeping
- First in his family to work in the line trade, but he has had some relatives in the coal mining industry.
- Nominated by Jonathan Fox, who says Ryan is very humble, extremely experienced and never asks for anything in return.
Coming from a middle-class family, college wasn’t much of an option. I stumbled across some lineman schools and read up about the paid apprenticeships and linemen’s salaries. I then dove straight into lineman school.
Day in the Life
My first job for a utility was a routine pole changeout job in Georgetown, Kentucky. I worked as a lead lineman for two years and have worked at Davis H. Elliot for more than five years. As a transmission journeyman lineman, I am responsible for the safety of the guys coming up below me. I train them how to do things the right way and do our line of work safely while still maintaining efficiency.
Challenges and Rewards
The biggest challenge of my daily job is trying to be in different places from the bucket to the ground to help the other guys on the crew. The rewards of this job are enjoying the views and always learning and doing something different. It’s not like a factory job where you do the same thing day in and day out. I might be hotsticking 161 kV then laying out distribution for crews to come in and replace poles.
When I was a class C lineman, I realized the importance of jobsite safety. My coworker, who was the same age as me and just starting out in his career, made accidental contact with 138 kV. I knew right then and there it didn’t matter if you have done everything right and by the book. Sometimes, it still isn’t enough. That’s when I truly understood that every safety rule and regulation in this field of work has been written in blood.
My most memorable storm moment was when I was called out to help assist after Hurricane Irma. We shipped out from Central Kentucky to Tampa, Florida, to help assist in the aftermath of the storm. It took two days of driving to get down there. We slept in a hotel somewhere in Georgia and arrived at our dragging lot the following morning. We then waited for orders on where we would go and when we had to leave. We sat there all day eager to go out and help. It turned out they only had a couple of transmission lines down and they were in the process of restoration, and they released us to go back home. Needless to say, we got paid excellent money to just be truck drivers for five days. It turned out to be some of the easiest work I’ve done.
Tools and Technology
I can’t live without my lineman pliers, hammer and impact. Technology has made leaps and bounds in our line of work in the small time I have been involved. For example, the battery-powered tools offer versatility and durability to help prevent wear and tear on the linemen as we had with manual tools.
You share a bond within the brotherhood, and I am always learning and growing. My plans for the future are to make a foreman for the utility I currently work for. I want to help pass on the knowledge and skills from journeyman linemen to the younger generations
Editor’s Note: Ryan Dempsey received a tool package from Milwaukee Tool to thank him for his dedication to the line trade.
If you are interested in being profiled in our monthly Lifeline department or know of a journeyman lineman who would be a good candidate, email T&D World Field Editor Amy Fischbach at [email protected].