There isn’t a tow truck operator in business that doesn’t enjoy a good call that involves recovering a vehicle from an accident. Whether it’s down in the ditch or rolled over in a field, it not only allows the operators to get on the job training but it’s also kind of fun to have a challenge. The enjoyment continues all the way back to the towing yard because once the vehicle is off the tow truck, it’s a challenge completed and a tough job well done. But there is another feeling that comes with accident recovery and it’s unfortunate; grief.
While these calls are enjoyable, tow truck drivers still have compassion and sympathy for the victims involved in the accident, no matter how severe. We wouldn’t want that traffic crash to happen to us or our family so while there may be a job that needs done, we still “feel” for the ones involved. Then there’s the worst kind of call. The accident calls that stick with us; fatalities.
Usually tow truck drivers don’t find out that an accident call is fatal until they arrive on the scene. Scenes such as these are usually very large and technical. A barrage of police cruisers, a small fleet of fire and rescue vehicles, the constant hum of diesel engines running and what seems like a truckload of scrap metal thrown all over the roadway. Organized chaos if you will. Then the moment it takes a turn is usually when a law enforcement or traffic official comes up to your truck and tells you that someone didn’t make it. Of course, the feeling of sadness and sympathy starts but while it may be unfortunate, we look at that as part of the job. But the part that gets us every time is the feeling we get when we have to get in that mangled vehicle and handle it just like any other call.
Each car or truck that gets towed usually has the same process. We put the transmission in neutral, hook up our truck with chains and hooks, and then start pulling on the winch. Everyone who drives has changed gears in their car before. Not a big deal right? Just imagine trying to move the gear lever to park or neutral when the roof is caved in and there’s sharp glass and metal everywhere. There could be fluid leaking or even worse, the victim’s blood spattered everywhere inside.
When we get into a vehicle like that, that same feeling of grief doubles in size and hooks us. It can sometimes be hard to shake it especially if it involves a young person such as a child or teenager. We may enjoy a “good accident call” where we really get to use our truck and have our experience tested but we don’t like our patience and emotions tested. There is, however, still a job to do and It’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.