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Student Linemen Help Stricken Man

They’re still in school, but they lived up to the linemen’s tradition of helping those in need.

Craig Costello (far left) with his hero students. (Photo By: John Freitag/AIEC)

Craig Costello (far left) with his hero students. (Photo By: John Freitag/AIEC)

Ten students in the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives’ first year apprentice school were taking their lunch break at a Springfield restaurant, Sept. 16. At the same time, a group of senior citizens was meeting in the eatery’s conference room. As the students passed by, one of the seniors fell backwards.

“They said he hit the ground hard. They all saw it and went in to aid him,” said Craig Costello, an instructor at the school who spent 29 years as a lineman for Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative in Auburn, Illinois.

One student, Geoff Wahl from the Rantoul, Illinois, municipal utility, is a trained emergency medical technician, and he was able to check the man.

“His heart was beating and he had a pulse,” said Costello. “He wanted to get up, and they tried helping him up, but he was stiff. They said it was like trying to pick up a concrete slab.”

It took five students to get him into a chair, and the man insisted that an ambulance not be called. ECT is not identifying the man at his family’s request.

Costello wasn’t at the restaurant, but heard the story that afternoon when class resumed at the Lincoln Land Community College campus.

“I’m pretty proud of them,” he said.

Roger Larkin, AIEC’s manager of lineworker and apprentice development, came by to offer his praise. “The cooperatives want to hire quality people who do this kind of thing—the right thing—for others,” Larkin said.

And while Costello would expect nothing less from his students, what happened after work caught him by surprise.

“At home that night I got a phone call from the man’s daughter,” Costello said. “She said, ‘I want to thank those young men,’” and Costello promised to pass on the message. The woman also explained that her father was having trouble with some new medications.

But how did she find Costello? She tracked him down through an Honor Flight list—her father was supposed to make the trip to Washington, D.C., in October, and Costello is a volunteer with the program. “I’ve been on nine flights and taken 11 veterans.”

Costello made the woman a promise: If her father isn’t up to traveling just yet, “There’s always next year and he’ll be first on the list.”

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