An interview with Tyler Brown, who is affected by ectrodactyly-ectodermal dysplasia-cleft lip/palate (EEC) syndrome and who is an aerial lineman.
I’m an aerial lineman for Haverfield Aviation based out of Gettysburg PA. I travel all over the country working on high voltage power lines from a helicopter. Aerial lineman work from a platform attached to a helicopter, or get dropped off on the tower from either the skid of the helicopter or a 75-100 foot long rope attached to the bottom of the helicopter.
This truly is an amazing career. I am learning everyday and loving what I do. I would have never thought I could enjoy my work as much as I do. I am very blessed to have this opportunity.
Has having ectodermal dysplasia affected your career choices?
At first, I honestly did think it would really affect my career choice, with my missing fingers being the most notable (Tyler is missing two fingers on his right hand).
After I finished high school, I began my career as a nursing student. I was able to give injections with my right and left hand and had no complications doing anything at all. I was in that field for around three years, until I realized that I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. It wasn’t making me as happy as I thought it would. I thought that being in the hospital so much growing up that perhaps being on the opposite end of the spectrum would bring me joy that nurses have given me throughout the years. The reality was, it wasn’t the career for me.
It wasn’t until my lineman school physical that I was told I might not be able to do something. The doctor didn’t clear me to go to school. So me being me, I left there and went to another physician who simply asked me if my hand stopped me from doing anything. I said no, and went off to lineman school.
Have you needed to request special accommodations in order to do your job?
Absolutely not. About the only thing I have to deal with is having extra fingers on my work gloves. On my own, or with the help of coworkers I cut the extra fingers off and sew them or use a zip tie to close the hole.
How open are you? Do you tell people about your syndrome at all?
I’m very open about my syndrome as I believe the more people that know the less questions they have and the quicker we can move onto not staring at my hand or cleft lip scar, or whatever catches their attention.
Tyler Brown is a thrill-seeker outside of work too! His favorite hobbies are whitewater kayaking, surfing and skiing. He is planning to get his skydiving license soon.
Do you have a career story you’d like to share? Contact Heather McKelvie at HeatherNFED@gmail.com
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