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Emergency Roadside Service Helps Save Trucker’s Life

HINTON, AB — “I’m getting your driver out of there NOW!”

The driver in question pulls for Legal Freight Services, a northern Alberta-division of TransForce. And he was in a fix.

He had been dispatched to a gas plant north of Hinton and then was out of communication range  for almost 20 hours.

Turns out that the route that he was supposed to follow was unmarked and snow covered, and at one point in the trip, his load shifted and his 18-wheeler got stuck.

The driver was out of cell-phone range. It was a snowy night, the temperature had dropped to minus 40, and the driver's supplies — most significantly his diesel fuel — were running low. And although the truck was tracked via satellite, there was no reason for anyone to act because in the oil patch, drivers frequently run for hours without contact.

It was only after 18 hours that Legal Freight’s Ops Manager Mike Buckley realized things might have gone on too long, he saw on GPS where the truck was and contacted Emergency Road Services Corporation (ERS) based in Mississauga.

Mostly, ERS provides emergency roadside care to truckers who need help with things like tows, restarts, battery boosts or on-site repairs. (In fact, since the company opened five years ago, they have responded to more than 25,000 calls. None have been quite as dramatic as this.)

Fortunately, Buckley’s call went to ERS’s Michelle Hendricks, who had just started her day shift.

“I could tell in Mike’s voice how serious it was,” Hendricks says, “As soon as I found out a life was in danger, I dropped everything and made sure he was taken care of.”

Adds Buckley: “Michelle was incredibly calm during the call and she told me exactly what I needed to hear — ‘I’m getting your driver out of there NOW!’”

Within 20 minutes of the call, Hendricks confirmed that she had contacted Big Mountain Mechanics in Hinton and that they had dispatched four trucks to the stuck driver. She had worked with Big Mountain before on other calls and knew, she says, that they were efficient and trustworthy.

With the help of ERS, Buckley and GPS, the Big Mountain team found and saved the driver and towed him out of the bush, on to the highway and all the way back to his house.

In a congratulatory letter to ERS after the event, Buckley said he was “shocked and relieved she [Hendricks] accomplished this so quickly.”

“My entire team knows who you are and what you did for us,” Buckley wrote. “On behalf of myself, my entire dispatch team, and especially the driver and his family, thank you for being the professional that you are and for being on the other end of the phone on January 19th.”

Dawn Violo, founder and President of ERS says they’re very proud of Hendricks’ performance. “We try to instill in our team that what they do is an extremely important job. Most of the time we are trying to make sure that a company’s delivery is made on time but we never know when we will get the next call to rescue a stranded driver and possibly save his life.”

And the bill for the tow? $2,700. For four trucks. And they had to plow a road through the snow to get to the truck unstuck. No wonder she likes Big Mountain Mechanics!

(This story has been udpated since it was originally posted.)

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