The Importance of On-Time Arrival
By Randall C. Resch
How long does it take the average tow company to arrive on-scene to an officer's request for a tow?
In June 2010, 21-year highway-patrol veteran Officer Brett Oswald, 47, was killed near Paso Robles, Calif., when a woman lost control of her Toyota Corolla and rear-ended his patrol car. Oswald was allegedly waiting for a tow truck to arrive to remove an abandoned vehicle.
This incident doesn't suggest that either the officer or responding towing company did anything wrong. However, if the vehicle was removed sooner could this horrific accident have been avoided?
According to police officers who responded online, there were several common factors we towers should always consider when serving law enforcement by asking if providing timely service will have a critical impact on total officer safety.
Having been in their shoes, I'll tell you that waiting for tow trucks to respond can be frustrating and dangerous. Consider these five situations that late-arriving tow truck response creates:
For highway patrol officers or troopers awaiting tow trucks for a tow of abandoned vehicles, waiting increases exposure and possibility of being struck by a wayward vehicle. When towers are late, risk of exposure increases exponentially.
For officers awaiting delayed tow trucks on DUI stops, intoxicated prisoners oftentimes go out of control and become belligerent, violent or sick. Why? Waiting equates to prisoners spending more time handcuffed; the tower's delay gets passed onto the cuffed.
For waiting officers forced to close lanes or block intersections, there's chance of secondary impact. Waiting also restricts the emergency response of police, fire or paramedic services headed to other locations due to a path of travel being blocked.
When towers are late to any tow, impound or recovery, law enforcement remain out of service longer.
Officers have been ambushed and killed while waiting for tow trucks to arrive.
Contract rotation demands that towers are timely. Tow truck companies and their operators have total responsibility to provide the fastest response possible for contract requirements as allowed by law. I assure you that the law enforcement community isn't asking, requiring or demanding that rotation towers go beyond written law when it comes to timely response.
Accordingly, there exists a fine line attached to timely response that includes reasonable and prudent driving actions where speed, passing, overtaking, and use of emergency shoulders comes into play.
Keep in-mind that a safe-response in tow trucks are the direct product of professionally run tow companies that train and monitor driver responses.
I know some tow business owners who feel that responding to police calls is only one facet of their company's total business, with no real importance about being late. But, fast response is a day-to-day process that demands strategic dispatch and the tow company's response. In a world where all things are possible, perhaps a timely response could mean the difference between secondary impact and unknowingly saving an officer's life from unseen circumstances.
Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line. Randall was inducted into the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame in 2014.