Crossarm Provides Nirvana for Iguana
Ameren Illinois lineworker comes to the rescue
July 2016

​A lineworker’s job is not easy. It requires years of training, a tolerance of unfriendly weather conditions, and a love for great heights. The job can often be physically and mentally demanding. When the power goes out, that’s usually when lineworkers get to work. 

As both a lineworker with Ameren Illinois and a volunteer firefighter in his hometown, Scott Dirks is no stranger to demanding situations. He also happens to be no stranger to rescuing family pets.

However, two encounters with reptiles on the same day may have Dirks thinking he was secretly being featured on Animal Planet.

First, he came across a 12-inch garter snake curled up inside a meter box.

Later in the day, he was fixing a street light in Watseka when journeyman lineworker Adam Rosenboom called and said, “You better get down to South Fourth Street to rescue an iguana that’s on top of a pole.”

Dirks couldn’t believe what he just heard. “When I finished up with the street light job, I pulled up in front of the address on South Fourth. The owner came running out of her house. She said her pet iguana escaped and has been missing for two weeks, but it has been spotted on the power pole.”

After Dirks and the iguana’s owner laughed together for a few minutes, it was onto the tasks at hand – assessing the area to make it safe and devising the rescue plan.

“I asked the owner if the iguana bites. She said, no, the worst it will do is scratch you,” Dirks says. “I told the owner that I would go up with a stick first just to see what its reaction will be. I promised I wasn’t going to push if off. I touched it on its mouth, head, tail and back. It didn’t move.”

Dirks put on his sleeves and rubber gloves, and made his move to snag the 2½-foot iguana.

“I reached out on top of the crossarm and grabbed it. As soon as I grabbed it, its front feet came up and its back feet went under the arm as if to say, I’m not letting go,” Dirks says. “The customer was just as happy as could be and kept thanking me.”

Lineworkers have a lot of responsibilities to ensure the electric power industry is able to deliver safe, reliable, affordable, and clean energy. It is safe to say we can now add “animal rescue specialist” to that list.