Not one to chase wrecks Darrell patiently listens to the police scanner in his tow truck with the intention of being available when an accident happens.
He hopes it will be his turn for the most recent accident that has brought traffic to a stop on the main highway through town. He kills time by checking his chains and tools again nevervously waiting for the call from dispatch that will send him to the accident.
Finally some action; The police officer on the scene calls for a no-preference wrecker.
The next 30 seconds are the longest part of the day as Darrell waits for the call.
Silence, “I guess it’s not my turn” He says out loud to nobody.
(Static) Then the sound of the dispatcher calling for him over the 2-way radio: “Base to Unit 5 I need you to go to an accident at…..”
This scene plays out thousands of times a day throughout the United States as towing companies depend upon the use of the Police Rotation System in order to be available when the need arises.
You probably never thought about how or why a tow truck shows up when you’re involved in an accident. There are much more important things to consider like making sure you and those around you aren’t injured.
When an accident occurs one of the first things that happens is others want to see what’s going on which leads to distracted driving. This distracted driving may lead to another accident. Looking over and swerving into the path of an oncoming vehicle or rear-ending the stopped vehicle ahead is how most secondary accidents occur.
To avoid secondary accidents from occurring and to quickly clear the roadways 911 is used to dispatch: Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, and a Towing Company. Working together they can quickly help everyone involved and get traffic flowing again.
But how does the 911 dispatcher know who to call?
911 dispatchers rely upon the information received from callers reporting the accident to determine the severity of the accident. They then make a decision about what services to send. They call Fire and EMS and alert approaching law enforcement officers as to the nature of the accident using J codes. J-1 being the least severe all the way up to the J-4 which means a fatality has occurred.
The first step is to get the closest law enforcement agency involved and send Fire and EMS if there are any injuries. Once on scene the police officer can further survey the accident and decide if a tow truck is needed.
If a tow truck is needed the officer will ask the vehicle owner/driver if they have a preference of towing company.
The reason is clear, the vehicle cannot move on its own power and cannot be left roadside in the condition it’s in.
If the owner/ driver of the vehicle is incapacitated (being taken to the hospital) or if they don’t know what towing company to call the officer will then refer to the Police Rotation. This is done by contacting their dispatcher and requesting a “no-preference wrecker”.
That’s where Darrell comes in. Waiting in the wings in the hopes that it’s his turn to help he quickly arrives to clean up the mess.
No he’s not the hero, he’s just a piece of the public safety machine waiting to do his part.