The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) trains hundreds of individuals each year to become heavy equipment operators. Although most are successful, each is exposed to unique operational challenges during field exercises. For some, the coordinated use of equipment controls is the most difficult; others have problems with depth perception.
Regardless of the challenges, very seldom if ever are new operators required to manipulate machinery without the use of both arms. That is, unless you’re McCulloch County heavy equipment operator, Cody Crouch. TEEX was there during a recent training delivery in Brady, Texas, to witness the 29-year-old’s amazing determination and skill. And the only operative word we have for Cody is . . . awesome.
Back when he was 18 years old, Cody was involved in a four-wheeler accident that severed spinal nerves responsible for control and function of his left arm and hand. Although Cody underwent 12-hours of surgery to remove nerves from other areas of his body to repair his damaged arm, the damage was too extensive and the arm could not be repaired. With no other options, Cody was encouraged to remain positive. Maybe someday, new technology would make repairs possible.
In the meantime, Cody moved forward with his life and six years ago he was hired as a motor grader operator by McCulloch County, Precinct 3.
“It was challenging at first, but Cody picked it up pretty fast,” said McCulloch County Commissioner Jim Ross. The motor grader he operates for the county has eight controls and a steering wheel. What most people learn to do with both arms, Cody accomplishes quite well with only one.
During recent proficiency training delivered by Billy Williams of TEEX, Cody was required to demonstrate motor grader proficiency on the Caterpillar® 140M3 motor grader. This piece of equipment has two control joysticks; one used to steer the equipment; the other to control the blade movements. In addition to the Cat® 140M3, Cody proficiently operates the John Deere® 670-6 motor grader, as well as loaders, skid steers, dump trucks, and bulldozers.
After completing training, Cody’s supervisor praised him for “having a great attitude and for always going above and beyond the call of duty.” In return, Cody says, “I’m grateful to McCulloch County for giving me the opportunity to work for them.”
Now that’s what we call “Making the Grade.”