SOARING HEIGHTS WITH TREE TRIMMERS
Ever wonder what it feels like to be a professional tree trimmer? To be up a 100-ft palm swaying with the wind? Yikes! Or to sit atop a tree overlooking the neighborhood? To the adrenaline junkie or someone who abhors the thought of sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, being a tree trimmer is an ideal career. They get to hone in on their inner tree-climbing child for a living, but this time with menacing chainsaws and large trucks and equipment! It may a tiresome and dangerous career, but it sure is exciting!
Do tree trimmers have a fear of heights?
When asked about a fear of heights, CEO, Larry Coalson, describes himself not NOT having a fear of heights, but rather a HEALTHY fear. Sitting 40 feet up in a tree doesn’t bother him the way it would your typical person. Even sitting at the edge of a cliff with a 200-ft drop doesn’t paralyze him with fear—unlike other people who get dizzy just thinking about it. Larry, on the other hand, views sitting on the edge of a cliff like sitting on a 10-ft wall. If you sit properly, your chances of falling are unlikely. BUT if you’re acting foolish, dancing along the edge, or just being plain dumb, then yes, you just might fall off!
Tree trimmers trust to some degree the trees that they climb onto. It doesn’t mean, however, that they trust all trees. Some trees can be too hazardous to climb, such as ones that are dead or rotting. Other trees could be too skinny and frail to give even a 50-lb child any sense of security, let alone a 180-lb man with a heavy chainsaw. This is why proper training and experience play a crucial role in keeping a tree trimmer safe, as well as the entire field crew and the property that the job is being performed at.
In San Diego, a couple of local trees that can make a grown man sweat with uncertainty are the lemon-scented eucalyptus and any tall Mexican fan palm whose crown is beyond the reach of a boom lift, so it therefore has to be climbed all the way to the top. Both of these trees (although technically, the fan palm isn’t a tree) grow tall and lanky—even known to soar past 100 feet in height. And not only are they tall, but they’re skinny and flexible. Bad combination for a tree trimmer, who couldn’t care less about swaying back and forth 60 feet up in the air on a tree trunk with a diameter of less than a foot. His only hope is that he’s not too heavy to cause it to snap.
It’s a dangerous job—but someone has to do it!
Almost every tree trimmer goes through some degree of fear on the job—whether it be a minor uneasiness or a serious “I’m about to die!” terror. Practically every aspect of the job can be dangerous on a daily basis. Falling tree parts. Even worse…unexpected falling trees. Hazardous working heights. Dangerous chainsaws. Deadly chippers. Stabbing spikes that go right through the sole of a boot. Stinging bee armies. Electrical lines. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the tree industry tops the nation’s list of the most dangerous jobs, with falling tree parts and equipment operation injuries being the main culprits for injuries and fatalities. It’s a dangerous job, but someone has to do it! But why would anyone want to put themselves at such risk on a daily basis? While Larry Coalson may not climb trees much anymore, back when he did climb for a living, he loved the daily adrenaline rush. The thought of sitting at a desk all day long made him cringe, but the thought of scaling up a tree for a living gave him a deep sense of excitement. The smell of the outdoors. The array of lurking dangers. The dangling heights that most people never get to experience. It all added to the love of his job—as dangerous as it was.
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