Our ambulance shrieked to a halt.
My partner, who was driving at the time, remained calm as the engine rattled and made an unpleasant noise. In the back of the rig, I tried to grasp the situation while bringing reassurance to the patient and her mom.
The hospital was in sight when the ambulance was not able to accelerate any further. My partner attempted to restart the rig without much luck. But luckily, the vehicle was able to stop at the front entrance to the hospital. We called dispatch, the control center, to see what we should do. Both of us were relatively new to the job, and neither of us had any clue what a “transmission error” was.
In the meantime, we finished transferring the patient to their room with their respective nurse. After we decontaminated the gurney and finalized our care report, we sat down and prayed that the ambulance would have enough strength to drive back to the station. After contacting dispatch once more, we attempted to cruise home, avoiding the freeway in the event of another breakdown.
In less than 3 minutes, the engine began to rattle and was unable to accelerate. The familiar message of “transmission error” made us realize we would be stranded for quite some time.
Being an hour and a half from the station, it would take some time for the tow truck to arrive. My partner and I made use of our down time to grab some dinner in the area while we waited for help to come.
After about 2 hours, the tow truck with the Circle City logo appeared. A friendly man came out to greet us, welcomed us into his truck, and began to securely load the ambulance. As I entered the truck, I realized how spacious it was. Settling into the seat, I peered through the window behind me. I was in awe as I watched him effortlessly anchor the rig onto the ramp from the comfort of the truck. His deliberate actions and unwasteful movements showed how he has done this a million times over.
After the ambulance was loaded and ready, it was time for us to head back to the station. During the ride, I got to know more about him and what he does.
His name was Alex, and he has been on the job since he was 15. Coming from Corona, it took him about 2 hours to get to us. Knowing it was a long trip, he brought his daughter along to enjoy the ride together. In having conversations with Alex, I have come to learn that the towing business is no easy task. Different towing companies take turns cycling contracts with the police department, highway patrol, and emergency response unit to respond to vehicle collisions and accidents. When called, they were responsible for not only towing the vehicle but also cleaning up the wreckage and debris left at the scene. I have a new-found appreciation for all the tow truck workers out there.
After we got back to the station, our ambulance was unloaded and nicely parked, and my partner and I shared our farewells and thanks to Alex.
Though the shift had an unexpected turn, it allowed me to meet amazing people I otherwise wouldn’t have met.
In retrospect, he was our ambulance, responding to us when we needed help.
If you are reading this, Alex, let’s grab some food together some time; it’s on me.